Notes and biographies

The correspondence between George Lyttelton (1883–1962) and Rupert Hart-Davis (1907–99) was written between 1955 and 1962, and first published in six volumes, between 1978 and 1984.

Hart-Davis, who edited the letters for publication, confined himself to ‘what I hope is a helpful minimum’ of footnotes, but more than six decades have passed since the correspondence began, and the biographies and the chronological notes on this site are offered to readers in this century who would like more background information.

In the notes to the individual letters I have generally refrained from repeating Hart-Davis’s footnotes, though I have enlarged on some. There remain a few names, quotations and references that I cannot identify. A list of the most conspicuous gaps can be found on the mysteries page of this site. I shall be pleased to hear from from anyone who spots any howlers or can fill any gap.

As well as the notes on the letters and the potted biographies the site contains:

  • Bibliography: British and US editions of the letters, and other publications by Lyttelton and by Hart-Davis.
  • Mysteries page: suggestions for solving any will be most welcome.
  • Links to other sites.

Notes to Volume 1: October 1955 to October 1956


23 October 1955

Bibliography of W.B. Yeats                   

A Bibliography of the Writings of W B Yeats, Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd, 1951; a second edition was published in 1958.


Autobiography in nine volumes of James Agate. A letter from GWL to Agate in 1943 led to GWL's appearance in the last four volumes of Ego. Volume 8 is dedicated to him (the first book, he averred, to be dedicated to a Lyttelton since Tom Jones). While completing the last of the Ego series, Agate told GWL that their correspondence would make a good pendant, and suggested the title Letters from Grundisburgh or Postscript to Ego (Agate, Ego 9, 14 October 1946).


The MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club), based at Lord's cricket ground, was the governing body of world cricket until 1993, when most of its functions were passed to the International Cricket Council. Overseas tours by the England team were under the official banner of 'MCC' until 1977.


Sunday newspaper, founded in 1791.


27 October 1955

my nephew Charles

Charles John Lyttelton, Lord Cobham

a Lytton Strachey essay on letters

Printed in The Athenaeum, 15 August 1919:

Among English writers, Swift and Carlyle, both of whom were anxious to be masculine, are disappointing correspondents; Swift's letters are too dry (a bad fault), and Carlyle's are too long (an even worse one).

his Irish Memories

Irish Reminiscences (1947).

your really excellent life of H. Walpole

RH-D's Hugh Walpole, A Biography, published by Macmillan in 1952, was, at the time of the Lyttelton/Hart-Davis letters, his only substantial publication as an author.

'that state of resentful coma which scholars attempt to dignify by calling research' ... Laski produced it—mendaciously—as his own.

Laski thought so well of the phrase that he used it five times in his correspondence with Mr Justice Holmes (Holmes–Laski Letters, Harvard University Press, 1953, pp 454, 488, 553, 716 and 1492). It appears to have been coined in the 1880s by Hensley Henson (later Bishop of Durham), according to Kenneth Rose in his biography of Lord Curzon (Superior Person: A Portrait of Curzon and his Circle in Late Victorian England, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969)

how immensely good that correspondence is

Harold J Laski first met Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr in 1916 when Holmes was 75 and Laski was 23. There ensued a correspondence that lasted until shortly before Holmes's death aged 93.

'You are glad he lived, but very grateful that you didn't know him'

Laski to Holmes, 5 April 1927

Virginia Woolf

Laski to Holmes, 30 September 1930:

I also went with Frida to a dinner to meet Virginia Woolf, the novelist. She tickled me greatly; it was like watching someone organise her immortality. Every phrase and gesture was studied. Now and again, when she said something a little out of the ordinary, she wrote it down herself in a notebook.

Don Juan

Byron's unfinished epic poem

Butler's budget

R A Butler, Chancellor of the Exchequer, presented a supplementary budget to Parliament on 26 October. It raised purchase tax by twenty per cent, extended its range to include household items previously exempt, increased the cost of postage and telephone calls, and cut the government's subsidies to local authorities. (The Times, 27 October, p 10.)

the Ancient of Days

A scriptural allusion to God; cf. Daniel 7:9.

more suo

In his (accustomed) way.

da capo

From the top—a direction at the end of a piece of music to repeat it from the beginning.

senza fine

Without end. The end of a 'da capo' repeat is often denoted by the word fine.

Andrea del Sarto

Lines spoken by the eponymous painter Andrea del Sarto in Browning's poem, lamenting his lack of inspiration to match his technical skill.

Hubert Parry is another example of brilliant promise ending in the merely accomplished and scholarly.

In 1887 Charles Stanford described Parry as the greatest English composer since Purcell. By the end of Parry's life his music (like Stanford's) was overshadowed by that of Elgar, although Parry's best-known piece, his setting of William Blake's 'Jerusalem' was a late work, composed in 1916.

'The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked'

Jeremiah 17:9.


30 October 1955        


To begin with; in the first place.

Dickens's Letters

Volume I (of a projected twelve) of The Letters of Charles Dickens, edited by Madeline House and Graham Storey was published by the Clarendon Press in 1965.

Pilgrim Trust

Charitable trust, founded in 1930, with a wide range of beneficiaries, including conservation, academic research, places of worship and social welfare.              

The Note-books of Gerard Manley Hopkins

House edited the first edition, published by the Oxford University Press in 1937. In 1959 the OUP published The Notebooks and Papers of Gerard Manley Hopkins (edited by House and completed by Graham Storey).

I got a classics don at Magdalen to vet and edit them

Aristotle's Poetics: A Course of Eight Lectures, edited by House and Colin Hardie, was published by Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd in 1958. A revised edition edited by Hardie was published by RH-D in 1966.

a cockney actor of great charm 

Charles Marford. His widow was the actress Molly Tapper.

Oscar Wilde's Letters

The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde was published by Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd in 1962. John Murray Ltd published a supplementary volume, edited by RH-D, in 1985. A consolidated and expanded edition under the supervision of Wilde's grandson, Merlin Holland, was published by Henry Holt and Co in 2000.

Anatole France's old scholar

The eponymous hero of Le crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (1881), a bibliophile whose library in his Paris flat is dubbed the City of Books.

Time and Tide

Literary and political magazine founded in 1920 by Lady Rhondda. Ceased publication in 1977. RH-D used the pen name 'Norman Blood' for his reviews of detective fiction in the magazine.


3 November 1955

Hodder and Stoughton

Publishing firm, originally of religious books, founded in 1868 by Matthew Hodder and Thomas Wilberforce Stoughton in succession to Jackson, Walford and Hodder.

Whose love is given over well

Partial Comfort, correctly attributed but not quite accurately quoted. Correctly:

Whose love is given over-well
Shall look on Helen's face in hell,
Whilst they whose love is thin and wise
May view John Knox in paradise.

Old Boy Dinner

Annual reunion of former pupils. Those for GWL's ex-charges were held at various venues including the Café Royal (1949), Brown's Hotel (1950), Royal Automobile Club (1951, 1952) and 15 Grosvenor Square (1954, 1955, 1959, 1960). One of his old boys recalled him 'at his Old Boy Dinners, enveloped in a vast and aging dinner-jacket, delivering with commendable timing, a string of improbable stories about his large family or the more obscure annals of Suffolk agricultural life.' (The Times, 11 May 1962, p 19.)

Mr Chips

A sentimental portrait of a long-serving schoolmaster in James Hilton's 1934 novel, Goodbye, Mr Chips, and the 1939 film based on it, starring Robert Donat as Charles Edward Chipping, 'Mr Chips'.


6 November 1955

The Garrick

The Garrick Club in the West End of London, much favoured by actors and lawyers.

Horatian Society

London society, founded in 1933, celebrating the works and life of Quintus Horatius Flaccus. The meeting mentioned by RH-D was at the Savoy Hotel on 15 July 1953, chaired by Leo Amery.

The Wisdom of Solomon

Sixth book of the Apocrypha. Ch 3 verses 1-5 are an authorised alternative to the Old Testament lesson for the service of Burial of the Dead:

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace. For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself.


Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. (Order of chivalry generally reserved for diplomats.)

My next book…

RH-D's memoirs were published in three volumes: The Arms of Time (1979), The Power of Chance (1991) and Halfway to Heaven (1998). The first of these was about his mother and his own youth.


Public school in Derbyshire, founded 1557. Fisher was the second of its headmasters to become Archbishop of Canterbury, succeeding William Temple in both posts (in 1914 and 1945).


9 November 1955

The late Bishop Brook of Ipswich

Late Bishop, rather than deceased. See Richard Brook in biographies.

'Sir, you may wonder'

Boswell's Life of Johnson (1766 section):

Boswell. 'But I wonder, Sir, you have not more pleasure in writing than in not writing.' Johnson. 'Sir, you may wonder.'

'Those who can, do; those who can't, teach'

Man and Superman, 'Maxims for Revolutionaries' include: 'He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.'

You lack the season of all natures, sleep

Macbeth 3:4.


Foreign Office. From 1968, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

'that sudden fits of inadvertency…'

From the preface to Johnson's Dictionary:

…what is obvious is not always known, and what is known is not always present; that sudden fits of inadvertency will surprize vigilance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning; and that the writer shall often in vain trace his memory at the moment of need, for that which yesterday he knew with intuitive readiness, and which will come uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow.

the pen, like Kempenfelt's

William Cowper, Loss of The Royal George:

His sword was in its sheath,
His fingers held the pen,
When Kempenfelt went down
With twice four hundred men.

'wicked Lord Lyttelton'

Thomas, second Baron Lyttelton.

Horace W.

Horace Walpole.

Old Men Forget

Memoirs of Duff Cooper, published by RH-D in 1953.


Biography of Talleyrand by Duff Cooper, published by Jonathan Cape in 1932.

the Jordan blood

There is no previous reference to 'Jordan blood' in the published letters as edited by RH-D. Mrs Jordan, mistress of William IV, was RH-D's great-great-great-grandmother. Gladstone's wife, Catherine, née Glynne ('Aunty Pussie') was sister of GWL's grandmother Mary Glynne who married George William Lyttelton (4th Baron) in 1839.

ex cathedra

From the (papal or episcopal) chair: an authoritative official pronouncement.

the Mirror

The Daily Mirror, a leftward-leaning mass-circulation newspaper.

the Sketch

The Daily Sketch, a rightward-leaning, less successful, rival of The Daily Mirror. Ceased publication in 1971.

'Old Lang Swine'

This is a quotation from a 1936 verse by Gerald Bullett:

My Lord Archbishop, what a scold you are!
And when your man is down, how bold you are!
Of Christian charity how scant you are
And, auld Lang swine, how full of Cantuar!

the New Statesman

Weekly, left-leaning current affairs magazine founded in 1913 by Sidney and Beatrice Webb with the support of Bernard Shaw and other members of the Fabian Society.


Abolition of the status of the Church of England as the state religion of England.


13 November 1955

Mrs Leo Hunter

The Pickwick Papers, Ch 15. Mrs Hunter is thought to be a caricature of Mary, Countess of Cork and Orrery, a famous hostess and collector of celebrities.

the Record Office

Public Record Office, then in Chancery Lane, London, founded 1838. Merged with the Historical Manuscripts Commission in 2003 to form the National Archives.

Operation Cicero

By L C Moyzisch (1950), with a postscript by Franz von Papen: an account of the espionage in Ankara. Knatchbull-Hugessen confirmed that 'the backbone of the book is certainly true.' (TLS, 29 September 1950, p 616)

Shakespeare and the musical glasses

This is the first of two mentions of 'musical glasses' in letters by RH-D; the other is in his letter of 15 September 1959, in Volume 4. The reference seems to be to Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield, Chapter 9: 'they would talk of nothing but high life, and high lived company; with other fashionable topics, such as pictures, taste, Shakespear, and the musical glasses'.

the new life of Kipling

Charles Carrington, Rudyard Kipling: His Life and Work, Macmillan, 1955.

Brains Trust

BBC radio programme, originally and still (in 2023) officially called 'Any Questions', later transferred to TV; a panel discussion on topical questions. The term 'brains trust' (originally 'brain trust') originated in 1930s in America (OED).


15/16 November 1955


Longinus, On the Sublime (Περι Υψους).  The passage (IX:14) quoted by GWL appears to be his own translation rather than any of the published versions.

Old Ram

A B Ramsay.

Leslie Hotson … Twelfth Night

Hotson's The First Night of Twelfth Night (1954).



Vere de Vere

Tennyson Lady Clara Vere de Vere. Stanza 5. (Correctly, 'which stamps…')

Proofs of Holy Writ

Kipling's last story, completed too late for inclusion in his last collection in 1932. Published in the OUP's Mrs Bathurst and other Stories in 1991.

Go heavily as one that mourneth

Psalm 35:14: 'I went heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother' (Book of Common Prayer). GWL's scriptural quotations were often from the BCP rather than the Authorised Version of the Bible; the latter's version of the passage is, 'I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother'.

'Awful Memnonian countenances calm'

Tennyson: A Fragment, published in The Gem: a Literary Annual, 1831.


20 November 1955

O liberal and princely giver

From Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese, No 8:

What can I give thee back, O liberal
And princely giver, who hast brought the gold
And purple of thine heart, unstained, untold.

Johnson Club

London club founded in 1884 for admirers and scholars of the works of Samuel Johnson. GWL delivered a paper to the club in 1953; it is reproduced as an appendix to Volume 2 of the Letters.

the Graham Sutherland portrait

The Sutherland portrait of Churchill, commissioned by both houses of Parliament, was destroyed by Churchill's wife, Clementine, in 1956. She said her husband had always disliked it and it had preyed on his mind. Sutherland later described the destruction as 'an act of vandalism'. Studies made for the portrait have survived, however, and are displayed in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

the other two Hotson books I published

Shakespeare's Sonnets Dated and other Essays (1949) and Shakespeare's Motley (1952).

The selection was made by Julian Symons

Carlyle: Selected Works, Reminiscences, and Letters, edited by Julian Symons, published by Hart-Davis in 1955.

'preached to death by wild curates'

Memoir of the Late Sydney Smith by his daughter Lady Holland (1855) p 384:
'Oh, the Dean of — deserves to be preached to death by wild curates.'

Hedda Gabler

Peggy Ashcroft played the title role in Peter Ashmore's production of Ibsen's play at the Lyric, Hammersmith, and later  at the Westminster Theatre in 1954.


23 November 1955

'which comforts while it mocks'

Browning, Rabbi-Ben-Ezra:

For thence,—a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks

'Sir, this is taking prodigious pains about a man'

Boswell's Life of Johnson (1784 section): 'He listened with much attention; then warmly said, "This is taking prodigious pains about a man."'



John Wain is producing…a small collection of difficult poems

Interpretations, 1955. Essays edited by Wain on understanding and appreciating 12 poems. Poems considered ranged from 'The Phoenix and the Turtle' to 'Christabel' to 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock'.

without any appeal to the bowels of Christ

A message from Oliver Cromwell to the Synod of the Church of Scotland on 5 August  1650 included the exhortation, 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.'

The Village that Voted

The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat;  story by Kipling, published in 1913.

'poor Poll' who wrote 'Of praise a mere glutton…'

From Oliver Goldsmith's Retaliation, A Poem, in the section on David Garrick.

what does 'to boot' mean?

'to the good' from Middle English 'boote' or 'boot', meaning 'advantage' or 'good'.

George Trevelyan compiled a vol. of extracts a few years ago, but I got the impression that he hadn't taken very much trouble over it; it was v. disappointing

Reviewing Trevelyan's volume in the TLS, Professor John Holloway commented on 'the cautious brevity of Dr Trevelyan's selection' and on the meagreness of extracts from Carlyle's letters. He also criticised Trevelyan's sources, sometimes 'erroneous, mis-punctuated or incomplete.' (TLS, 24 April 1953, p 266.)


Carlyle's History of Friedrich II of Prussia, called Frederick the Great, 21 volumes published between 1858 and 1865.

'investigate the parts of shame…'

'Thus, too, you will observe of dogs: two dogs, at meeting, run, first of all, to the shameful parts of the constitution; institute a strict examination, more or less satisfactory, in that department. That once settled, their interest in ulterior matters seems pretty much to die away, and they are ready to part again, as from a problem done'. Frederick the Great, XVI. Carlyle attributes the words to Diogenes.


27 November 1955

'When I see a number of "its"'

Cobbett's A Grammar of the English Language (1818), 196: 'Never put an it on paper without thinking well what you are about. When I see many its in a page I always tremble for the writer.'

assez lugubre

Gloomy enough.


London club. Its members, according to the club, are mainly professionals concerned with science, engineering or medicine, but lawyers, writers, artists, clergymen, civil servants and academics of all disciplines are also heavily represented on the roll, with a small number of businessmen and politicians. Women have been eligible to become members since January 2002. Its imposing premises in Pall Mall, designed by Decimus Burton, date from 1827.

W.H. Smith

British booksellers and stationers, founded in 1792.

The Queen and the Rebels

By Ugo Betti, translated by Henry Reed, starring Irene Worth and Leo McKern.

people never think their own home is far away

Putney is 10 kilometres from Soho Square.

in posse



30 November 1955


A boil, from Latin furunculus, lit. 'a little thief'.

'spell of the dry grins'

Not Mark Twain, but Joel Chandler Harris: 'Brer Rabbit'd bust out in er laff, en old Brer Fox, he'd git a spell er de dry grins.' (From the Uncle Remus story, Old Mr Rabbit, He's a Good Fisherman.) Also used, elsewhere in the stories, of Brer Wolf and Brer Rabbit. The term does not appear in the OED, but the American Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as 'smiling caused by a feeling of embarrassment'.

tire the sun with talking

William Cory, Heraclitus. '…how often you and I/Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.'


Hagley Hall, Worcestershire. GWL's birthplace. The last great English house to be built in the Palladian style, constructed for George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton, between 1754 and 1760 to the designs of Sanderson Miller. The Hall remains in the family's possession; at 2019 the owner is Christopher Charles Lyttelton, 12th Viscount Cobham.


School story by Kipling in which a formidable Classics master shows his human side. The story opens with Mr King taking the boys through Horace's Ode III:5, insisting that their translations should not merely be accurate but should convey in English 'the passion, the power … the essential guts' of Horace's Latin.

Craven Scholar

Oxford and Cambridge scholarships endowed by John, Lord Craven, first awarded in 1649.

the son of Oileus and not the son of Telamon

GWL's way of indicating that The Upton Letters did not represent Benson at his best: the son of Oileus was known as 'Ajax the lesser', the son of Telamon, 'Ajax the great'.

'La Belle Dame S.M'

La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Keats.

'Through the dear might of Him that walked the waves'

Milton, Lycidas.

Leavis on Lawrence

Later scholars such as Eugene Goodheart referred to Leavis's uncritical, even idolatrous, view of Lawrence, and criticised Leavis's English insularity in failing to see Lawrence in a broader context. (Goodheart, D H Lawrence: The Utopian Vision, 2006, pp ix-x)

Numb as a vane…

Hardy, She to Him, III.

Adam in Moonshine

Priestley's first novel (1927). The TLS, like GWL, praised the writing, though judging Priestley a born essayist rather than a born novelist. (TLS, 27 January 1927, p 58)

the paucity of human pleasures

'It is very strange, and very melancholy, that the paucity of human pleasures should persuade us ever to call hunting one of them.' (Mrs Piozzi's Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson, LL. D.)

This very evening my son is being interviewed on TV

One of a series of half-hour broadcasts under the title 'At Home'. Others featured in the series included the show-jumper Harry Llewellyn, James Thomas (First Lord of the Admiralty), and the actor John Mills and his wife.

'Sir, I abstracted my mind and thought of Tom Thumb'

'He [Fox] talked to me at club one day,' replies our Doctor, 'concerning Catiline's conspiracy, so I withdrew my attention, and thought about Tom Thumb.' (Mrs Piozzi, op cit)


4 December 1955

so much brilliance manifested in the children, and not a single grandchild to carry it on

Archbishop Benson's three sons were lifelong bachelors; it is not generally thought that any of the three was susceptible to the attractions of the opposite sex. (ODNB)

Margaret Duchess of Newcastle

Douglas Grant's Margaret the First: A Biography of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, 1623-1673, published by RH-D in 1957.

a short novel written in English by a Hungarian woman

The Mermaids by Eva Boros, published by RH-D in June 1956. 'A most attractive novel,' said The Times (7 June 1956), 'Miss Boros's touch is light and sensitive.'

'The Convergence of the Twain' … 'An Ancient to Ancients'

The first is subtitled 'Lines on the loss of the Titanic'; the second is a reflection on nostalgia

Paternosters Club

Paternoster Club: a London club for authors and journalists.


7 December 1955

As We Were…

As We Were: A Victorian Peep-Show, reminiscences, published 1930. Final Edition, autobiography, published 1940. Both by E F Benson.

An Average Man, The Conventionalists

Novels by R H Benson, published in 1913 and 1908 respectively.

'still small voice of coin'

cf. the hymn 'Dear Lord and Father of Mankind', which contains the line 'O still, small voice of calm' after the 'still small voice' of 1 and 2 Kings, but probably an allusion to R L Stevenson's letter to Sidney Colvin, January 1875:

About my coming south, I think the still small unanswerable voice of coin will make it impossible until the session is over.

the reburnishing of the dove

From Tennyson's 'Locksley Hall':

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

'If there be any merit, think on these things'

From Paul's Epistle to the Philippians 4:8: '…if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things'.

Knurr and spell

Bat and ball game.

Wilkinson (not Lyttelton)

Reference to one of Wordsworth's less felicitous opening lines, 'Spade! with which Wilkinson hath tilled his lands,' ('To The Spade of a Friend (an Agriculturist) Composed while we were Labouring Together in his Pleasure-Ground').

the innermost recesses of Abraham's bosom

cf. Luke 16:22: Lazarus is carried to Abraham's bosom, representing bliss in heaven.

not going so far as Dr J.

Samuel Johnson: 'Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o'clock is a scoundrel.' Works, vol. 9, Apophthegms, ed. John Hawkins, 1787-1789.

as C. Lamb delightedly reported Wordsworth as saying

John Rogers Rees, The Brotherhood of Letters (1889):

However one may admire Wordsworth, his egotism occasionally rubs up very roughly against our sensibilities. He told Lamb one day in the course of conversation that he considered Shakespeare greatly overrated. 'There is,' said he, 'an immensity of trick in all Shakespeare wrote, and people are taken by it. Now, if I had a mind I could write exactly like Shakespeare.'  'Yes,' stuttered Lamb in reply, 'it is only the mind that is wanting.'

'The Men Who March Away'

Hardy's 1914 poem, 'Men Who March Away' subtitled 'Song of the Soldiers'. It begins:

What of the faith and fire within us
Men who march away
Ere the barn-cocks say
Night is growing grey,
To hazards whence no tears can win us;
What of the faith and fire within us
Men who march away!

Petition of Right

In 1628 both Houses of Parliament passed resolutions reaffirming the provisions of Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus, seeking to prevent the monarch from raising taxes without Parliamentary consent and to curtail other autocratic practices. The resolutions, known collectively as the Petition of Right, were forced on Charles I, who reluctantly ratified them.


11 December 1955

The Dynasts … the Third Pro­gramme broadcast

Henry Reed's radio adaptation of Hardy's epic verse drama set in the Napoleonic Wars was broadcast on six successive evenings in June 1951. Each part ran for ninety minutes. The large cast included Robert Harris as Napoleon and Stephen Murray as Wellington.

Napoleon … is taunted  by the spirits

Hardy invented various spirits (Spirit of the Years, Spirit of the Pities etc) as unifying narrative devices.

quorum pars minima fui

'Of which I was a small part'—possibly a play on Virgil: 'quaeque ipse miserrima vidi / et quorum pars magna fui.' (Aeneid, Book II, 5-6.)

Orleans Club

London club whose independent existence ended in 1945 when it merged with the Marlborough and Windham clubs.

Wine and Food Society

International association of gastronomes founded in 1933 by André Simon.

Waiting for Godot

This was the first London production of Beckett's masterpiece, which had been premiered in its original French version, En attendant Godot, in Paris in January 1953. The London production was directed by Peter Hall, with Paul Daneman as Vladimir, Peter Woodthorpe as Estragon, Peter Bull as Pozzo and Timothy Bateson as Lucky.


14 December 1955

de profundis

From the depths.

Prospero and Chauntecleer

In, respectively, The Tempest and Chaucer's The Nun's Priest's Tale.

Like John Wesley's friend…

The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, Volume 7 (1826), 'On Riches':

A gentleman of large fortune, while we were seriously conversing, ordered a servant to throw some coal on the fire; a puff of smoke came out; he threw himself back in his chair and cried out, 'O, Mr Wesley, these are the crosses I meet with every day!' I could not help asking, 'Pray, Sir John, are these the heaviest crosses you meet with?'

The Spectator

Current affairs and arts weekly founded in 1711 by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and relaunched several times since. It has a right-of-centre bias.

How Green etc

How Green was my Valley, 1939 novel by Richard Llewellyn, set in a Welsh mining community in Victorian times.

I will not listen to…

Mrs Dale's Diary and The Archers were BBC radio soap operas. The Goon Show was an anarchic comedy. Vic Oliver was a comedian. Billy Bunter was a comic character based on a series of books set in a minor public school.


A glossy high-society magazine, with no connexion to Richard Steele's 1709 publication of the same name.


A monthly magazine of humour, short stories, photographs and the arts. Notwithstanding GWL's implied disdain it had distinguished contributors including C S Forester, Robert Graves, Nancy Mitford, Stephen Potter, V S Pritchett and Ronald Searle.


A game played on a billiard table with six coloured balls and one cue ball, with which players try to pocket the coloured balls in a prescribed order.

D Mail

The Daily Mail, a right-wing newspaper popular among sections of the lower middle classes.


Boer leader in South Africa, nearly as extravagantly bearded as W G Grace.

What line would he have taken about heroin?

At the end of 1955 there was controversy about a proposed ban on the manufacture of heroin for medical use. At that time Britain produced seventy per cent of the world supply of heroin. (The Times, 7 December 1955, p 6)


17 December 1955

the London Mag

The London Magazine, a review of literature and the arts, first published in 1732 and relaunched in 1820.

the life of Freud

Three-volume biography by Dr Ernest Jones. Described by The Times as 'masterly' and by The Times Literary  Supplement (29 November 1957) as 'an achievement … of which the author may be justly proud.'

La Plume de ma Tante

Revue with music by Gerard Calvi and English lyrics by Ross Parker, starring Robert Dhéry.

his new edition of Evelyn

E S de Beer's was the first complete edition of Evelyn's diaries to be published. It was in six volumes, totalling 3,296 pages, with more than 12,000 notes by de Beer.


The Times Literary Supplement, a weekly literary review. It first appeared in 1902 as a supplement to The Times, and became a separate publication in 1914.

Fancy a fifteen-guinea book

The £15/15/- was for all six volumes.

Northanger Abbey perhaps or Old Mortality

Novels by Jane Austen (1817) and Walter Scott (1816)


22 December 1955

George Hirst's 2000 runs and 200 wickets in 1906

Hirst's achievement remains unmatched in first class cricket.

 'So here it comes—the distinguished thing'

Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance (1933), 14.3:

He is said to have told his old friend Lady Prothero, when she saw him after the first stroke, that in the very act of falling (he was dressing at the time) he heard in the room a voice which was distinctly, it seemed, not his own, saying: 'So here it is at last, the distinguished thing!' The phrase is too beautifully characteristic not to be recorded.

'desperate tides of the great world's anguish…'

From St Paul by F W H Myers, referring to Christ's redeeming passion.

Ezra Pound's referring to him as 'the beastly Beethoven'

Ezra Pound, 'Civilisation', Polite Essays (1935):

The beastly Beethoven contributed to the development of opera. … Let us have the perfect rendering which leaves Ludwig no possible alibi. It is NOT a pleasant way of spending an evening but it is immeasurably instructive.

'go romancing through a roaring lifetime…'

The Playboy of the Western World, Act 3. Correctly, 'a romping lifetime'.


26 December 1955

Appendixes A and B

Appendix A, a brief history of the Walpoles takes only two pages, but Appendix B, Walpole's official account of the First Russian Revolution, runs from p 449 to p 469.


London club, in St James's Street.

The Times

England's oldest national newspaper, founded in 1785 as 'The Daily Universal Register', changed in 1788 to the present title. All other newspapers with 'Times' in their title, from The Times of India to The New York Times, derive their titles from the original.


30 December 1955

la crapule 

Sickness resulting from excess of food or drink.


This word is not in the Oxford English Dictionary. The context suggests that it may be an editorial mistranscription of 'duodenosis' which is not in the OED either but is elsewhere used as a synonym of 'duodenitis', an intestinal inflammation.


1 January 1956


Also 'Wykehamist' (GWL's preferred spelling)—pupil or former pupil of Winchester College (after the founder of the college, William of Wykeham.)

suaviter in modo

Soft in manner. The full line is 'suaviter in modo, fortiter in re'—firm in the matter. The iron fist in the velvet glove.

les douceurs de la vie

The sweet things of life.


3 January 1956

meliore lapillo

'With a better stone'—ancient Roman writers including Juvenal refer to the practice of putting a white stone into a box to mark every happy day, and a black stone for every unhappy one.

browsing and sluicing

Wodehouse's phrase for 'food and drink' appears in many of his books, including My Man Jeeves ('Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest'), Right Ho, Jeeves (ch 11) and no fewer than three times in Indiscretions of Archie (ch VII, XVIII and XXI)

'neutral-tinted haps and such'

Hardy, 'He never expected much'.


8 January 1956

All on a weeping Monday…

From Sir John Denham's verses 'To Sir John Mennes', subtitled 'Being invited from Calice to Bologne to Eat a Pig.'


Cyril Alington.


8 January 1956

as Swinburne did at his 'ultimate allowance…'

'He smiled only to himself, and to his plateful of meat, and to the small bottle of Bass's pale ale that stood before him—ultimate allowance of one who had erst clashed cymbals in Naxos. This small bottle he eyed often and with enthusiasm, seeming to waver between the rapture of broaching it now and the grandeur of having it to look forward to.' (Max Beerbohm, No 2, The Pines.)

black gloom and the dunnest smoke of Hell

cf. Macbeth 1:5:

Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell.

made my heart like a singing bird…

Christina Rossetti, A Birthday:

My heart is like a singing bird,
Whose nest is in a watered shoot.'


15 January 1956

Separate Tables

Rattigan's 1954 play, starring Phyllis Neilson-Terry, Margaret Leighton and Eric Portman. It is two separate but overlapping dramas set in the same small seaside hotel.

St. James's Club

London club established in 1857, amalgamated with Brooks's in 1978.

Society of Bookmen

A dining club founded by Hugh Walpole in 1921.


J & E Bumpus of 350 Oxford Street. Booksellers by royal appointment. The firm moved to 6 Baker Street in 1958 when the Oxford Street lease expired, and was taken over in 1963.

Salad Days

By Dorothy Reynolds and Julian Slade. It ran in the West End for a record-breaking 2,283 performances.


18 January 1956

Sir Henry's dignity, Sir Squire's eyeglass, and Sir Seymour's smile

Portraits of Irving, Bancroft and Hicks in the Garrick Club, by Millais, Hugh Goldwyn Riviere and Maurice Codner respectively.

'My work will never be better than third-rate…'

Letter from Bennett to George Sturt, 1901. Quoted in Arnold Bennett—the Critical Heritage, ed. James Heburn, 1971.


Charles Pooter, central figure of The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith, is an accident-prone, lovably ridiculous figure. RH-D's biography of Walpole refers to 'the Mr Pooter strain in his character.'


Trades Union Congress, the joint forum for British trade unions.

the correspondence about old Asquith and his bridge-game

Starting with a letter on 9 January from Violet Bonham-Carter contradicting the assertion in Robert Blake's biography of Bonar Law that Asquith kept Law waiting for an important meeting while Asquith finished a hand of bridge.

Cliveden set

Tag invented by the left-wing journalist Claud Cockburn for the 1930s circle of Nancy Astor, thought by some to be too far to the political right to be a good influence on British politics.

'Don't write about politics; I agree with you beforehand'

Postscript to a letter to Frederic Tennyson, 1852. The original omits the word 'about'.

'He was at Eton, and had therefore had no education'

In Walpole's The Thirteen Travellers (1934)

Cakes and Ale

Alroy Kear in Maugham's 1930 novel Cakes and Ale was a disobliging and barely disguised caricature of Hugh Walpole, though Maugham mendaciously assured Walpole that the character was not based on him.


22 January 1956


Romeo and Juliet 2:2: 'Too flattering-sweet to be substantial.'

faute de mieux

For lack of anything (or in this case anyone) better.

bien entendu

Of course.

Charley's Aunt

Revival of Brandon Thomas's 1892 farce at the Globe Theatre, starring Frankie Howerd as Lord Fancourt Babberley. The Times thought more highly of it than RH-D did. In The Manchester Guardian, Philip Hope-Wallace called Howerd's performance 'wonderfully funny' and 'gloriously vulgar.'

Wild Duck

At the Saville Theatre, with a cast including Dorothy Tutin, Emlyn Williams, Michael Gough and Angela Baddeley, directed by Murray MacDonald. The Times thought less highly of it than RH-D did.


25 January 1956

your tightrope achievement

Hart-Davis's 1952 biography of Hugh Walpole avoided stating explicitly that its subject was homosexual, but made it clear to any reader who chose to read between the lines. When the book was reissued in 1985 the TLS commented on RH-D's 'fastidiously selective' reticence: 'In 1952 this would have seemed like decent discretion; twenty years later it would have seemed like evasion; today, Hart-Davis's calculated restraint seems effectively to mirror Walpole's own mode and to be, in literary terms, paradoxically sophisticated.' (TLS, 9 August 1985, p 887)

But I grow old, Master Shallow

Henry IV Part 2, 3:2:

Doth she hold her own well?
Old, old, Master Shallow.
Nay, she must be old; she cannot choose but be old; certain she's old.

in articulo mortis

At the moment of death—i.e. until my last moments.

M. Arnold (quite rightly) said was the sine qua non of all real civilisation

In Culture and Anarchy, An Essay in Political and Social Criticism:

So while we praise and esteem the zeal of the Nonconformists in walking staunchly by the best light they have … we seek to add to this what we call sweetness and light, and develop their full humanity more perfectly.

laughter came upon me 'like a sudden glory'

Hobbes: 'Sudden glory is the passion which maketh those grimaces called laughter.' Leviathan Pt. I, Ch. 6.

He had a laugh like all the sons of God

Job 38:7: 'All the sons of God shouted for joy.'

Dorothy Parker

Not Dorothy Parker, but Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn. (Correctly 'golf-links lie', not 'golf-course lies'.)

Who was it described his smile as 'like sunshine on putty'?

The phrase seems to have been coined by the duo Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper who wrote under the joint pen-name Michael Field. In their journal for 1890, they wrote:

His smile is like sunshine on putty, his talk sticks to one with the intimate adhesiveness of the same material—it approaches the surface of one's personality softly and there it is, on one,

GWL included the quotation in his commonplace book, along with another description of Moore by Gertrude Atherton: 'Like a codfish crossed by a satyr.' (GWL, p 38)


29 January 1956


The Order of Merit. A greater honour than knighthood (though conferring no prenominal title), restricted to 24 members.

The present Abbess is writing a biography of her

In A Great Tradition (1956), study of Dame Laurentia McLachlan  by Dame Felicitas Corrigan.

I fear his last journey

Cockerell lived until May 1962, outliving GWL.

lovelier letter of condolence than the one to Mrs Stevenson

What can I say to you that will not seem cruelly irrelevant or vain? We have been sitting in darkness for nearly a fortnight, but what is our darkness to the extinction of your magnificent light? You will probably know in some degree what has happened to us—how the hideous news first came to us via Auckland, etc., and then how, in the newspapers, a doubt was raised about its authenticity—just enough to give one a flicker of hope; until your telegram to me via San Francisco—repeated also from other sources—converted my pessimistic convictions into the wretched knowledge. All this time my thoughts have hovered round you all, around you in particular, with a tenderness of which I could have wished you might have, afar-off, the divination. You are such a visible picture of desolation that I need to remind myself, that courage, and patience, and fortitude are also abundantly with you. The devotion that Louis inspired—and of which all the air about you must be full—must also be much to you. Yet as I write the word, indeed, I am almost ashamed of it—as if anything could be 'much' in the presence of such an abysmal void. To have lived in the light of that splendid life, that beautiful, bountiful thing—only to see it, from one moment to the other, converted into a fable as strange and romantic as one of his own, a thing that has been and has ended, is an anguish into which no one can enter fully and of which no one can drain the cup for you. You are nearest to the pain, because you were nearest to joy and the pride. But if it is anything to you to know that no woman was ever more felt with and that your personal grief is the intensely personal grief of innumerable hearts—know it well, my dear Fanny Stevenson, for during all these days there has been friendship for you in the very air. For myself, how shall I tell you how much poorer and shabbier the whole world seems, and how one of the closest and strongest reasons for going on, for trying and doing, for planning and dreaming of the future, has dropped in an instant out of life. I was haunted indeed with a sense that I should never again see him—but it was one of the best things in life that he was there, or that one had him, at any rate one heard of him, and felt him and awaited and counted him into everything one most loved and lived for. He lighted up one whole side of the globe, and was in himself a whole province of one's imagination. We are smaller fry and meaner people without him. I feel as if I know that there is nothing narrow or selfish in your sense of loss—for himself, however, for the happy name and his great visible good fortune, it strikes one as another matter. I mean that I feel him to have been as happy in his death (struck down that way, as by the gods, in a clean, glorious hour) as he had been in his frame of mind. And, with all the sad allowance in his rich full life, he had the best of it—the thick of the fray, the loudest of the music, the freshest and finest of himself. It isn't as if there had been no full achievement and no supreme thing. It was all intense, all gallant, all exquisite from the first, and the experience, the fruition, had something dramatically complete in them. He has gone in time not to be old, early enough to be so generously young and late enough to have drunk deep of the cup. There have been—I think—for men of letters few deaths more romantically right. Forgive me, I beg you, what may sound cold blooded in such words—or as if I imagined there could be anything for you 'right' in the rupture of such an affection and the loss of such a presence. I have in my mind in that view only the rounded career and the consecrated work. When I think of your own situation I fall into a mere confusion of pity and wonder, with the sole sense of your being as brave a spirit as he was (all of whose bravery you shared) to hold on by. Of what solutions or decisions you see before you we shall hear in time; meanwhile please believe that I am most affectionately with you … More than I can say, I hope your first prostration and bewilderment are over, and that you are feeling your way in feeling all sorts of encompassing arms—all sorts of outstretched hands of friendship. Don't, my dear Fanny Stevenson, be unconscious of mine, and believe me more than ever faithfully yours, Henry James.

'the unlit lamp and the ungirt loin'

Browning, 'The Statue and the Bust' which ends:

The counter our lovers staked was lost
As surely as if it were lawful coin:
And the sin I impute to each frustrate ghost
Is—the unlit lamp and the ungirt loin,
Though the end in sight was a vice, I say.
You of the virtue (we issue join)
How strive you? De te, fabula.


1 February 1956

the Listener

Weekly magazine published by the BBC between 1929 and 1991.

that majestic old libertine his great-uncle

Wilfred Scawen Blunt.

English Association

Association founded in 1906 to promote 'further knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the English language and its literatures and to foster good practice in its teaching and learning at all levels.'

The Times says A.A.M. wrote two detective stories…

Times obituary, 1 February 1956. The Times was wrong and GWL right.

American children 'fwowed up'

Under the pen name 'Constant Reader' in The New Yorker, Dorothy Parker, reviewing The House at Pooh Corner, wrote, 'Tonstant Weader fwowed up.'

than a similar situation is by Wycherley in The Country Wife

Horner in Wycherley's play has it put about that he is impotent so that local women will not be on their guard against him.

life as summed up by Hobbes…

Leviathan, XIII, on the effect of war: '… continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.'


5 February 1956


Beachcomber parodied Milne's collections of verse, When we were Very Young and Now we are Six as When we were Very Silly and Now we are Sick. Milne's 'Vespers', contains the lines 'Hush Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.' Beachcomber's version, slightly misquoted by RH-D, is:

Hush hush!
Nobody cares:
Christopher Robin
(The Best of Beachcomber, 1963, p. 60)

the transmogrified Mr Bultitude

In Vice Versa by F Anstey.

Janet Adam Smith … I'd love to publish the book

Janet Adam Smith's John Buchan and His World was published in 1979, long after RH-D's retirement, by Thames and Hudson.


9 February 1956

Bourchier's Macbeth

Quoted by Agate in Ego 2, p 319

as Joxer Daly would say

In O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock.


Cambridge University Athletic Club.


12 February 1956

the interview … duly appeared on Thursday morning

The piece, titled 'The Hazards of Publishing—Effect of changes on small firms', ran to 500 words, and set out RH-D's view that costs had risen so much that small, independent publishers were 'likely to have greater difficulties in the future.' (The Times, 9 February, p 5.)  The leader, two days later, began, 'This week an ineluctable process has been carried a step further: another young publishing house, high in reputation, has joined up with an older firm.' But the main emphasis of the leader was the effect that publishers' problems had on aspiring writers, whose chances of publication were steadily diminishing. (The Times, 11 February, p 7.)


15 February 1956


The Code of the Woosters (1937), Ch 1:

He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

Marlovianly … that ghost of Conrad's

In Heart of Darkness, an unnamed narrator retells Marlow's telling of his journey.

Jedediah Cleishbottom

Jedediah Cleishbotham, pen name used by Sir Walter Scott.


Housman disguised himself under the name of Terence in his poetry.

like P.G.W's Russian novelist on his colleagues…

In P G Wodehouse's The Clicking of Cuthbert (1922):

Vladimir Brusiloff proceeded to sum up.
'No novelists any good except me. Sovietski—yah! Nastikoff—bah! I spit me of zem all. No novelists anywhere any good except me. P G Wodehouse and Tolstoi not bad. Not good, but not bad. No novelists any good except me.'

George Herbert's 'But oh Eternity's too short…'

From the hymn, 'When all Thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys'. Words not by Herbert but by Joseph Addison.

'Oh ye ice and snow, praise ye the Lord'

From the order of service for Morning Prayer, Benedicite, omnia opera: 'O ye Ice and Snow, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him for ever'.

'going rather too far'

E F Benson, As We Were, 1934:

'Shall I tell our visitor about the man of Peru?' he once asked Mr Watts-Dunton. But no. 'I think that goes a little too far, Algernon,' was the reply, and so the doings of the man of Peru remained shrouded in a discreet mystery.

That great man Judge Holmes surely hit the nail…

Holmes-Laski Letters, Vol 1, p 95 (Holmes to Laski, 1917):

I don't doubt the progress of the last 2000 years but have no convictions as to its indefinite continuance. I see sufficient reasons for doing my damnedest without demanding to understand the strategy or even the tactics of the campaign.

altering 'indifferently' to 'impartially' in that wonderful prayer of Cranmer's

The change, made despite many objections, was to the line 'And grant unto thy servant Elizabeth our Queen, and to all that are put in authority under her, that they may truly and indifferently administer justice …'   By the twentieth century to do something 'indifferently' had come in general usage to mean 'unimpressively', rather than 'impartially' as intended.


W E Gladstone.

when they altered 'charity' to 'love' in Corinthians

1 Corinthians13. There are nine mentions of 'charity' in the chapter, ending with, 'And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.' The change from 'charity' to 'love' was made in the Revised Version in 1881.

'All occasions invite His mercies…'

Donne, sermon preached on Christmas Day 1624.

'Many the ways, the little home is one'

From Thomas Lovell Beddoes's play Death's Jest Book, begun in 1828 and published posthumously in 1850.


19 February 1956

le dernier cri

'The latest cry'—the current fashion.



I expect it's in Agate somewhere

It is: in The Contemporary Theatre, 1944 and 1945 (1946):

They will remember that critic who, between the two wars, was pressed by his editor to make the journey to Barnes. He replied, 'Sir, I respectfully submit that I am your dramatic critic for London, not for Asia Minor.'

the caesura seems to shift disconcertingly

When psalms are sung in church the caesura is the central pause in each verse, at which the melody changes direction.

Landor's poem to Ianthe

'Well I remember'


23 February 1956


To toil.

'the ungodly, filled with guilty fears…'

From the hymn, 'Great God, what do I see or hear?', words by William Bengo Collyer and Thomas Cotterill.

'Man is least himself when he talks in his own person'

From Wilde's The Critic as Artist (1891)

Sinister Street

By Compton Mackenzie.

Tom Brown at Oxford

By Thomas Hughes. Sequel to Tom Brown's Schooldays.

Miss Tishy in Jonathan Wild

Story by Henry Fielding. The passage mentioned by GWL is in Chapter VII—'Matters preliminary to the marriage between Mr Jonathan Wild and the chaste Lætitia.'

'this pomp of worlds, this pain of birth'

Matthew Arnold: 'Resignation—to Fausta':

Enough, we live:—and if a life,
With large results so little rife,
Though bearable, seen hardly worth
This pomp of worlds, this pain of birth;

Do you remember how he proved to his brother the Colonel what a bad writer of English Newman was?

In Salve, one of Moore's three volumes of autobiography, he set out to debunk Newman's Apologia pro Vita sua for its poor prose, which Moore contended, revealed equally poor thinking. Colonel Maurice Moore, whom Moore portrays in the passage, is depicted as representative of the open-minded reader.

the new edition of A. and M.

Hymns Ancient and Modern, the standard hymnal in Anglican Churches in the 1950s. A revised edition was published in 1950.

his cook had been murdered

Woollcott's mention of the event (which occurred, as noted by RH-D, in 1912) was in 'Shouts And Murmurs', The New Yorker, 24 November 1934.

the hero of The Ballad of Reading Gaol

The ballad's dedication is, 'In memoriam C. T. W., Sometime trooper of the Royal Horse Guards, obiit H M Prison, Reading, Berkshire July 7, 1896'. Charles Thomas Wooldridge murdered his wife in a crime passionnel and was hanged, despite the jury's strong plea for clemency.

Coleridge saying L had 'never learnt to write simple and lucid English'

Table Talk of S T Coleridge, 1 January 1834:

…his poems, taken as wholes, are unintelligible; you have eminences excessively bright, and all the ground around and between them in darkness. Besides which, he has never learned, with all his energy, how to write simple and lucid English.

his announcement that Tennyson knew nothing about metre

Coleridge said  of Tennyson:

The misfortune is the he has begun to write verses without very well understanding what metre is. Even if you write in a known and approved metre, the odds are, if you are not a metrist yourself, that you will not write harmonious verses; but to deal in new metres without considering what metre means and requires, is preposterous.

This was written in 1833, near the start of Tennyson's career as a poet. (W Macneile Dixon, A Primer of Tennyson, 1892, p 52)


26 February 1956

Zuleika Dobson

By Max Beerbohm.

'Do you remember me? or are you proud?'

Landor: 'Ianthe's Question'.


1 March 1956

our A.V.

The Authorised Version of the Bible—the King James version of 1611.


In Swift's Stella. The OED defines the word as 'sloppy' or 'slushy'.


The OED does not know about 'stolchy'. Edmund Blunden used the word in his poem 'A Country God'; GWL copied these lines from it in his commonplace book (p 52):

When groping farms are lanterned up
And stolchy ploughlands hid in grief,
And glimmering by-roads catch the drop
That weeps from sprawling twig and leaf.

St Winifred's

Also by Dean Farrar.

Is Hone's Life good?

Joseph Hone's The Life of George Moore (1936) was favourably reviewed in The Manchester Guardian (23 October 1936) and with some reservations, in the TLS (9 October) and The Times (9 October).

sported his oak

Shut the outer door of his rooms.

'We are the music-makers'

'Ode' by Arthur O'Shaughnessy. Now possibly best known as the libretto of Elgar's cantata The Music Makers.

the verdict of the great Bentley

Richard Bentley:

From thence I dipped in his [Professor Joshua Barnes’s] fulsom ἐπίλογος, enough to make a man spew that sees the vanity and insolence of the writer. … But what a shame it is, for a man that pretends to have been, a teneris unguiculis, a great grammarian and a poet, not to know, that the second syllable of εὐπραγίης is long?
Quoted in James Henry Monk, The Life of Richard Bentley (1833), p. 295.

Bandmaster Barnacle

Marine Bandmaster Percy Barnacle, one of those involved in the 1928 court martial trials of Captain K G B Dewar and Commander H M Daniel, who were judged to have prejudiced naval discipline by complaining of the bullying by Rear Admiral Collard of his subordinates, including Barnacle. Pace GWL, The Times made no fun of the Bandmaster's name.


4 March 1956

the printing dispute

Printers' unions took industrial action in January-March 1956 in pursuance of a pay claim.

Dodson and Fogg

Mrs Bardell's lawyers in The Pickwick Papers.

an article of 1200-1400 words on Post-War Publishing for the Financial Times

Britain's leading financial daily paper; it has a substantial and serious arts page. RH-D's article appeared on 12 April under the title 'Problems of the Publisher'. It covered, in greater detail, the main points of his Times interview in February (see above).

the Lord Chief Justice

Lord Goddard.


Pratt's Club, St James's. One of several long-established London clubs for men.


8 March 1956

'those reverend vegetables'

Letter from Gray to Horace Walpole, 1737: 'Both vale and hill are covered with most venerable beeches, and other very reverend vegetables, that, like most other ancient people, are always dreaming out their old stories to the winds.'

'towery city…cuckoo-echoing…'

Hopkins, 'Duns Scotus's Oxford', 1878.

Ten Thousand a Year

Published 1841. Edgar Allan Poe reviewing it for Graham's Magazine, November 1841, called it 'shamefully ill-written' but it sold well.

Jephro Rucastle and Colonel Lysander Stark

In the Holmes stories 'The Copper Beeches' and 'The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb' respectively.


11 March 1956

'dear addicted artist'

From Auden's poem 'At the Grave of Henry James':

Startling the awkward footsteps of my apprehension
The flushed assault of your recognition is
The donnée of this doubtful hour:
O stern proconsul of intractable provinces,
O poet of the difficult, dear addicted artist
Assent to my soil and flower.

RH-D included these lines in the published version of his commonplace book, with the footnote: 'Auden later removed this admirable stanza from the poem. It is usually a mistake for elderly authors to mess about with their earlier works.' (A Beggar in Purple, p 104.)


14 March 1956

the real sin against the H.G. is teaching the young to sneer, not in saying 'Thou fool'

A mixture of biblical allusions. The sin against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31-32—the one unforgivable sin) and Matthew 5:22, 'whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.'

the Provost

Professor S R K Glanville, who died suddenly the following month aged 56.

me judice

'I being judge'—in my opinion. (Ablative first person singular pronoun + ablative of iudex.)

Too much 'O Altitudo' is horrible

From Thomas Browne's Religio Medici (1643), indicating loftiness of feeling.

a look as of thunder asleep but ready

John Brown, Rab and His Friends (1861):

The same large, heavy, menacing, combative, sombre, honest countenance, the same deep inevitable eye, the same look—as of thunder asleep, but ready—neither a dog nor a man to be trifled with.

sans phrase

'Without phrases' i.e. without circumlocution.


GWL was confusing two different MPs called Gully. See Gully in the biography section.

Sunday Times

Newspaper founded in 1822; not connected with The Times until 1966.


Old Wykehamists.

'Charity suffereth long'

1 Corinthians 13:4.

the difference between 'deferred' and 'preferred' shares

Holders of preferred shares receive dividends before all other shareholders; holders of deferred shares are lower in the pecking order.


18 March 1956

a biography of him by an American called Watson.

A E Housman: A Divided Life by George L Watson. Published by RH-D in 1957.


21 March 1956

the young man in Kipling, who 'trod the ling like a buck in spring…'

Kamal's son in The Ballad of East and West (1889).

'I reminded him that he was a toothless ape…'

'I called him…a wrinkled and toothless baboon who, first hoisted into notoriety on the shoulders of Carlyle, now spits and sputters on a filthier platform of his own finding and fouling.' (quoted in The Life and Letters of Sir Edmund Gosse, 1931.) Elsewhere Swinburne is quoted as calling Emerson 'a gap-toothed and hoary-headed ape' (New York Daily Tribune 25 February 1874). Emerson had earlier described Swinburne as 'a perfect leper and a mere sodomite.'

'What mean ye by these stones'

Joshua 4:6; the stones are a memorial.

letters from the University to King George V on the death of his mother and at his jubilee

The addresses were first published in the Cambridge University Reporter, but the identity of the author was not disclosed. GWL transcribed the second (published 14 May 1935) in his commonplace book:

To the King's most excellent Majesty, We, the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge, desire to approach You with our loyal and dutiful congratulations on the completion of the twenty-fifth year of Your Majesty's reign.

The events of that reign, for greatness and moment, are such as have rarely been comprised within twenty-five years of human history. It has witnessed unexampled acceleration in the progress of man's acquaintance with the physical universe, his mastery of the forces of nature, and his skill in their application to the processes of industry and to the arts of life. No less to the contrivance of havoc and destruction has the advance of knowledge imparted new and prodigious efficacy; and it has been the lot of Your Majesty to confront at the head of your people the most formidable assault which has ever been delivered upon the safety and freedom of these realms. By exertion and sacrifice that danger was victoriously repelled; and Your Majesty's subjects, who have looked abroad upon the fall of states, the dissolution of systems, and a continent parcelled out anew, enjoy beneath your sceptre the retrospect of a period, acquainted indeed with anxieties even within the body politic and perplexed by the emergence of new and difficult problems, but harmoniously combining stability with progress and rich in its contribution of benefits to the health and welfare of the community 

Called suddenly to the throne in an hour of vehement political contention, Your Majesty gave early evidence of the qualities which have since proved equal to every occasion. Courage and composure, steadfast impartiality, wise judgement, and delicate feeling have ever been present and manifest; and a transparent openness of nature has knit Your Majesty to the affections of all your subjects, who, without respect of rank or condition, are conscious of what we may presume to call a fellow-feeling with their sovereign. That Your Majesty, with your august and beloved Consort at your side, may be granted long life and happy continuance of the blessings vouchsafed to your reign in the years already numbered is the earnest prayer of this University, even as it is the common hope of a people fortunate in their King and grateful for their fortune.

the Tudors

Possibly The Tudors by Christopher Morris (1955).

my brother-in-law Leconfield

GWL's elder sister Maud Mary (1880-1953) married Lord Leconfield in 1908. 


25 March 1956

'I am wr-riting a book about the Cr-rusades…'

The Crusades—The World's Debate, published 1937.


29 March 1956

'Who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him'

Macbeth 5:1.

Bat Masquerier

From Kipling's 'The Village That Voted the Earth Was Flat'.


Local Government Board. MacCarthy recounted the exchange in Humanities (1954), p 19.

or even … B.M.'s creator

There seems a mistranscription here: the printed text reads 'or even of B.M.'s creator' but GWL is surely saying that Dr Johnson—who invented the phrase about the knot of little misses—is a greater man than Saltmarsh or even Kipling. Johnson's phrase is recorded in The Diary of Mrs Hester Lynch Thrale (Later Mrs Piozzi) 1776-1809.

'a million thousand times more beautiful than Milton'

Letter to Eddie Marsh, 17 December 1913.

Shaw, whose absurd will…

Shaw left the bulk of his £367,000 estate to be used for the reform of the English alphabet and spelling. The will was overturned in the courts after his death, and the bulk of Shaw's fortune went to the residuary legatees—the British Museum, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the National Gallery of Ireland. The courts allowed £8,300 to be spent on spelling reform; most of it went on a phonetic edition of Androcles and the Lion in the Shavian alphabet, published in 1962 to a largely indifferent reception.

some monarch was a little queasy…

From Beckford's Vathek:

The Caliph, nevertheless, remained in the most violent agitation. He sat down indeed to eat; but, of the three hundred dishes that were daily placed before him, he could taste of no more than thirty-two.

counting fish as nothing

Lamb, The Last Essays of Elia, 'To the Shade of Elliston':

One proud day to me he took his roast mutton with us in the Temple, to which I had superadded a preliminary haddock. After a rather plentiful partaking of the meagre banquet, not unrefreshed with the humbler sort of liquors, I made a sort of apology for the humility of the fare, observing that for my own part I never ate but of one dish at dinner. 'I too never eat but one thing at dinner'—was his reply—then after a pause—'reckoning fish as nothing.'

The Next Million Years

By Sir Charles Darwin, published by RH-D in 1952.

Micaiah the son of Imlah

In 2 Chronicles and 1 Kings; cf. 1 Kings 22:8: 

'There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.'


4 April 1956

'Have we not all eternity to rest (talk) in?'

From Sartor Resartus: 'A little while, and thou too shalt sleep no more, but thy very dreams shall be mimic battles; thou too, with old Arnauld, wilt have to say in stern patience: "Rest? Rest? Shall I not have all Eternity to rest in?"'

'Pray consider what your flattery is worth before you are so lavish with it.'

'Madam, before you flatter a man so grossly to his face, you should consider whether or not your flattery is worth his having.' (Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arbley, Part II—1778 (published 1842).

'Gad, Madam, you'd better!'

cf William James, Varieties of Religious Experience, Lecture II (1902):

'I accept the universe' is reported to have been a favorite utterance of our New England transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and when some one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic comment is said to have been: 'Gad! She'd better!'

See also RH-D's letter of 20 May 1961, which gives another citation, closer to the wording used by GWL here.

'To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable, but to be certain is to be ridiculous'

I cannot find a reliable reference for this as by Goethe. If he wrote or said it he may have been quoting Voltaire: 'Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde'.  (Letter from Voltaire to Frederick the Great, 5 January 1767)

the last speech of Brother Martin in St Joan

I took this cross from the church for her that she might see it to the last: she had only two sticks that she put into her bosom. When the fire crept round us, and she saw that if I held the cross before her I should be burnt myself, she warned me to get down and save myself. My lord: a girl who could think of another's danger in such a moment was not inspired by the devil. When I had to snatch the cross from her sight, she looked up to heaven. And I do not believe that the heavens were empty. I firmly believe that her Savior appeared to her then in His tenderest glory. She called to Him and died. This is not the end for her, but the beginning.

Col. Bramble

The Silence of Colonel Bramble (Les silences du colonel Bramble) by André Maurois (1921)

'history blushes to name'

'…vices from which History averts her eyes, and which even Satire blushes to name…' Macaulay, 'Frederick the Great' in Critical and Historical Essays, Vol II, 1854.


8 April 1956

Leslie Hotson's fascinating piece on the back page of the current T.L.S.

Giving a novel interpretation of Falstaff's offstage deathbed scene. Hotson contended that 'His nose was as sharpe as a pen and a table of green fields' (as printed in the First Folio) is correct. It has long been given as "… a babbl'd of green fields", but Hotson contended that the original words meant that the emaciated Falstaff resembled a portrait of Admiral Sir Richard Grenville (otherwise Greenfield). RH-D's prediction that stage directors would pay no attention to Hotson has proved correct.


10-11 April 1956

I move about in worlds not realised

Wordsworth: 'Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood':

Blank misgivings of a Creature,
Moving about in worlds not realised.

Old Johnson did I think accept 'babbled'

Johnson was no admirer of Lewis Theobald, who proposed the amendment to the text, but he allowed that 'babbled of green fields' would be an 'uncommonly happy' reading, if it were not that he disapproved of conjectural emendation.

'The reading of the ancient books is probably true…'

From Johnson's Preface to Shakespeare (1765)

'the nubbly bits'

Galsworthy, The Silver Spoon, Chapter 8.

O.E. ties

Harris was educated at the Royal School in Armagh and then Ruabon grammar school in Denbighshire; Ford went to University College School, London. (ODNB).

'the face of an angel-sheep…'

Agate, Ego I, p. 332: 'And not far off the face of an angel-sheep turned into a kid's and grey with its baby old age—Max Beerbohm.'


Waste-paper basket

Petrarch's simple statement…

'A sharp youth is a beautiful sight; nothing is more hideous than an old schoolmaster.'  In a letter from Petrarch to his friend Zenobio, who was thinking of becoming a teacher. GWL's friend C D Fisher quoted the line in a lecture delivered at Oxford in 1912.

The man of one joke, like the G.O.M.

Gladstone lectured to the literary society at Eton in 1891. Maurice Baring recalled:

There was only one joke in the lecture, and that would have been better away. It was this: 'Some of you may have heard the old story of the moon being made of green cheese.' Pause for laughter and a dead silence. 'The moon might just as well,' continued Mr. Gladstone, 'be made of green cheese for all the purposes she serves in Homer.'
Baring, The Puppet Show of Memory (1922), p 108


19 April 1956

… all the spices and gums of Arabia

'All the rare and costly products of the world were collected in that celebrated mart: the shawls of Cashmere and the silks of Syria, the ivory, and plumes, and gold of Afric, the jewels of Ind, the talismans of Egypt, the perfumes and manuscripts of Persia, the spices and gums of Araby…' Disraeli, Alroy, Chapter 2


21 April 1956

petit maître

Minor master (usually of one of the fine arts). Often used slightingly, though not here.

Nought, as perhaps Shelley said, shall endure…

Indeed Shelley, from his 1816 poem 'Mutability', which ends,

Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.


29 April 1956

'the silence that is in the starry sky…'

Wordsworth, 'Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle', 1807.


2 May 1956

Mrs Gamp

In Martin Chuzzlewit, ch 52. Dickens frequently used the old cockney transposition of 'v' and 'w' with comic intent.

The Greek Ambassador in 1916

Joannes Gennadius, Greek Minister in London from 1910-32, of whom The Journal of Hellenic Studies said in 1932, 'no foreign diplomatist possessed such a complete knowledge of our language, which he wrote and spoke with elegance…'

Xmas Day in the First Lesson 'Wonderful, Counsellor, Prince of Peace' etc

In the Book of Common Prayer, the First (Old Testament) Lesson prescribed for Mattins on Christmas Day is from Isaiah 9:2-7. Verse 6 is 'For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.'

'S.B. always hits the nail on the head…'

Young (pp 74 and 179) quotes the phrase with no attribution other than 'a common saying of the time'

'almost impossible to exaggerate the complete unimportance of everything'

The only mentions I can find of this phrase (e.g. dictionaries of quotations) cite this letter of GWL's as their source; I have not discovered where he got it from.

'treading the ling like a buck in spring'

Kipling, 'The Ballad of East and West':

With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain crest
He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest.

'There was a hardness in his cheek…'

Wordsworth, 'Peter Bell'.

old Munnings is again protesting

Munnings had announced that he would not attend the annual banquet of the Royal Academy in protest against the Academy's increased showing of modern art.

'could neither speak with effect nor be silent with dignity'

Jan Piggot et al, Dulwich College—A History, 1616-2008 (2008), p. 170


7 May 1956

'And mighty poets in their misery dead'

Wordsworth, 'Resolution and Independence' (1807):

My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
And hope that is unwilling to be fed;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty Poets in their misery dead.


9 May 1956

'Kubla Khan' … Abora

In Coleridge's poem:

It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.

'The May Queen' and 'Dora'

also by Tennyson.

'Who drives fat oxen…'

Boswell's Life of Johnson (1784 section):

Johnson was present when a tragedy was read, in which there occurred this line: 'Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free.' The company having admired it much, 'I cannot agree with you (said Johnson:) It might as well be said, "Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat".'

'Doest thou well to be angry…'

Jonah 4:4: 'Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry? ...  And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.'


18 May 1956

when they began monkeying about with the game of bridge

During the 1920s auction bridge, popular when GWL was a young man, was developed into, and supplanted by, contract bridge.

'My mind to me a Kingdom is' could be claimed by him more justly, I suspect, than it was by George Wither.

'My Mind to me a Kingdom is' is by Sir Edward Dyer (1543-1607) and not George Wither (1588-1667).

Portrait of a Man with Red Hair

Novel by Hugh Walpole (1925).


Nautical poem by Masefield (1912). The lines mentioned possibly include:

Whirled all about—dense, multitudinous, cold—
Mixed with the wind's one devilish thrust and shriek,
Which whiffled out men's tears, deafened, took hold,
Flattening the flying drift against the cheek.
The yards buckled and bent, man could not speak.
The ship lay on her broadside; the wind's sound
Had devilish malice at having got her downed

Meg Merrilies' 'Ride your ways, Ellangowan'

Walter Scott, Guy Mannering. The passage beginning 'Ride your ways,' said the gipsy, 'ride your ways, Laird of Ellangowan,' is in Chapter 8.


22 May 1956

shall be in the Rover seats

Though RH-D was entitled, as an MCC member, to sit in the members' enclosure, women were not admitted there, and he and his guest (presumably Ruth Simon) had to sit elsewhere in the ground.

a paragraph or two of Bunyan, about the trumpets sounding for him on the other side

The Pilgrim's Progress. Part II, the Eighth Stage:

Then said he, I am going to my Father's, and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the Trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My Sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my Pilgrimage, and my Courage and my Skill to him that can get it. My Marks and Scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought his Battles who now will be my Rewarder. When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the River-side, into which as he went he said, Death, where is thy Sting? And as he went down deeper he said, Grave, where is thy Victory? So he passed over, and all the Trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

Avowals, Conversations in Ebury Street, Memoirs of my Dead Life and A Storyteller's Holiday

All by George Moore, published in 1919, 1924, 1921 and 1918.

amaranth and moly to prop myself on

Tennyson, 'Song of the Lotos-Eaters'.

But, propt on beds of amaranth and moly,
How sweet (while warm airs lull us, blowing lowly)
With half-dropt eyelid still,
Beneath a heaven dark and holy,
To watch the long bright river drawing slowly
His waters from the purple hill


25 May 1956

ventre à terre

Lit. 'belly to the ground'—resembling old paintings of a horse at full gallop; hence at full speed. (Ventre à terre paintings showed galloping horses with their front legs stretched straight forwards, and their hind legs stretched straight back; slow motion photography in the 1880s revealed that this is not at all how horses gallop.)

Hensley Henson's lamenting the difficulty of finding good quills

Letters of Herbert Hensley Henson (1951), p 246:

If only I could obtain really good goose-quills, I should still be able to write tolerably. These hateful steel nibs reduce one to the level of an elementary school-boy. Lucidity is purchased at the cost of a revolting scribal scrupulosity!

How sorry one is about M.B.

Max Beerbohm died on 20 May (not 18 as stated in RH-D's note), aged 83.


In the (vehemently reactionary) manner of Charles Whibley.

that marvellous little message of Vanzetti's

Vanzetti's words, printed in The New York World, 17 May 1927, recorded by a reporter who visited  him in prison:

If it had not been for these thing, I might have live out my life talking at street corners to scorning men.  I might have die, unmarked, unknown, a failure.  Now we are not a failure.  This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for joostice, for man's understanding of man as now we do by accident.  Our words—our lives—our pains—nothing!  The taking of our lives—lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler—all! This last moment belongs to us—that agony is our triumph.


27 May 1956

'sapient trouble-tombs'

From Lamb's 'Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading' (Essays of Elia):

The wretched Malone could not do worse, when he bribed the sexton of Stratford church to let him white-wash the painted effigy of old Shakspeare, which stood there, in rude but lively fashion depicted, to the very colour of the cheek, the eye, the eye-brow, hair, the very dress he used to wear — the only authentic testimony we had, however imperfect, of these curious parts and parcels of him. They covered him over with a coat of white paint. By —, if I had been a justice of peace for Warwickshire, I would have clapt both commentator and sexton fast in the stocks, for a pair of meddling sacrilegious varlets. I think I see them at their work — these sapient trouble-tombs.


31 May 1956

old laudatores temporis acti like myself

From Horace's laudator temporis acti se puero 'a praiser of time past when he himself was a boy' (Ars Poetica 173)—one who pines for the good old days.

My ancestor whose 'every limb was a blemish…'

George, 1st Baron Lyttelton. GWL had quoted this description in his paper on his ancestor read to the Johnson Club in 1953 and reproduced as an appendix to Volume 2 of the letters. He did not say whose words they are.

the second act of The Truth about Blayds (and what a good second act)

1921 comedy by A A Milne, in the second act of which Irene Vanbrugh's character, Isobel Blayds, reveals that the poems of her celebrated father, the recently-dead Oliver Blayds, were not by him but by a friend of his early years who died young.

quis rem decernet?

Who is to decide the matter?

a very fine side of suicidal cricketers

A book was published in 2001 giving accounts of more than a hundred cricketers who committed suicide. (Silence of the Heart by David Frith). The players mentioned by GWL are included, but see the biographical note on Tom Richardson.

Charles Morgan's hailing N.C's cricket reports as 'Meredithian'

Morgan wrote to The Times (8 January 1947):

Sir,—May a faithful reader of cricket reports be allowed to thank you and your Special Correspondent at Melbourne for the best he has read these 40 years? Who shall dare to say now that George Meredith is forgotten?
'Naturally the English players were now men uplifted; mercury bubbled in the blood … The issue was here a very ache of intensity; the arms of the deities above were stretching far beyond their reach as Miller went out of his ground to Wright.'

The Baconians are immensely boring about these cryptograms

cf P G Wodehouse, 'The Reverent Wooing of Archibald' (1928):

'These figure totals', she said, 'are always taken out in the Plain Cipher, A equalling one to Z equals twenty-four. A capital letter with the figures indicates an occasional variation in the name count. For instance A equals twenty-seven, B twenty-eight, until K equals ten is reached, when K, instead of ten, becomes one, and R or Reverse and so on, until A equals twenty-four is reached. The short or single digit is not used here. Reading the Epitaph in the light of this Cipher, it becomes, "What need Verulam for Shakespeare? Francis Bacon England's King be hid under a W Shakespeare? William Shakespeare. Fame, what needest Francis Tudor, King of England? Francis. Francis W Shakespeare. For Francis thy William Shakespeare hath England's King took W Shakespeare. Then thou our W Shakespeare Francis Tudor bereaving Francis Bacon Francis Tudor such a tomb William Shakespeare".'
   Wodehouse’s parody is lucid by comparison with the Baconian Ignatius Donnelly’s entirely serious exposition of the supposed cipher between pp 655 and 669 of his 1888 book The Great Cryptogram: Francis Bacon's Cipher in the So-called Shakespeare Plays, too long to quote here, or indeed anywhere.

Ronnie Knox's brilliant establishing of the real author of In Memoriam

1928 article in which Knox sent up the methods of Baconians and the lunatic fringe who insisted that Queen Elizabeth wrote Shakespeare's plays. Knox fabricated tortuous decipherings such as 'V.R.I. the poetess. Alf T. has no duties', to prove that Queen Victoria wrote In Memoriam as a lament for Lord Melbourne. Knox, 'The Authorship of In Memoriam', Essays in Satire (1928), pp 221–233.


3 June 1956

two hundred letters from Max Beerbohm to Reggie Turner … they'll need some editorial notes.

Edited and published by RH-D in 1964. Reviewing the book, the TLS said of his annotations, 'The work involved … must have been immense, and the greater the obscurity the more valuable the information. An occasional "Unidentified" or "Quotation untraced" is at once an earnest of candour in the editor and an incentive to the reader.' (TLS, 26 November 1964, p 1056.)


6 June 1956

meliore lapillo

'A better stone'. Persius, Satire no II: 'Hunc, Macrine, diem numera meliore lapillo'. The Romans used a white stone as a symbol of good days.

the late Duke of Devonshire

Probably the ninth duke: see biography.

When were you chipped from the blue bowl of air…

Quotation still unidentified.

Ivor Brown's version of the Lord's Prayer in officialese

In which, 'Give us this day our daily bread,' becomes, 'We should be obliged for your attention in providing for our own nutritional needs, and for so organising distribution that our daily intake of cereal filler be not in short supply,' (quoted by GWL in his letter of 30 November 1961), and 'lead us not into temptation' becomes 'avert from us all redundant opportunities for delinquency and ethical deviation.' (Brown, Say the Word, 1947, pp 7-8.)


10 June 1956

the cuckoo of a joyless June

From 'Midnight, June 30, 1879', by Tennyson, on the death of his brother, Charles Tennyson-Turner


Percy Lubbock's book about life as a boy at his family home, Earlham Hall, Norfolk. The ODNB says of it 'The portraits of family, the splendiferous descriptions of Earlham (worth reading for Lubbock's passion alone), and appreciation for neighbouring landscapes are conveyed with elegance. Above all, Earlham spoke to a generation that had been brought up Victorian but had been transfigured by war and social change.'

Maritime Museum … Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, who had sold them a Van de Velde seascape

The Battle of the Texel (1673), the Bombardment of the 'Royal Prince', by Willem van der Velde the elder and Willem van der Velde the younger. Sold to the National Maritime Museum in 1934, but from 2004 once more displayed at Felbrigg Hall, on loan from the NMM to the National Trust, to whom Ketton-Cremer bequeathed the house in 1969.


13 June 1956

ventre à terre

Full gallop—see note above for 25 May 1956.

'The Misers' by (in my day) Quentin Matsys

The National Gallery attributes the painting to Marinus van Reymerswale's studio. The 'wicked' Lord Lyttelton won it as a gambling debt. The picture was sold at Sotheby's in 2008 for more than £2m.

in Heaven above or the earth beneath or the waters under the earth

Exodus 20:4

like Housman's cheek as he thought of that verse

cf. Housman, The Name and Nature of Poetry: 'Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to keep watch over my thoughts, because, if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act.'


17 June 1956

'long live the weeds and the wilderness yet'

Gerald Manley Hopkins, 'Inversnaid':

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wilderness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

the Druce-Portland case

A Victorian furore when the late 5th Duke of Portland was posthumously accused of leading a double life as an upholsterer in Baker Street.


24 June 1956

panem et circenses

Bread and circuses, from Juvenal's Satires, X, lamenting that the People, who once handed out high offices and ran things, now just want to be fed and entertained:

…nam qui dabat olim imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses.

verb sap

Abbreviation of verbum sapienti sat est—a word is enough to a wise person.


27 June 1956

a kilderkin

A cask for liquids, with a capacity of sixteen to eighteen gallons (OED).

as Benjamin was to Joseph

Genesis 43:34: Joseph served his brothers food, 'but Benjamin's mess was five times as much as any of theirs'.

Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own

In which (Chapter 1) the splendour of dinner at the old male colleges is contrasted with the modest and unappealing food at a fictional college for women:

Prunes and custard followed. And if anyone complains that prunes, even when mitigated by custard, are an uncharitable vegetable (fruit they are not), stringy as a miser's heart and exuding a fluid such as might run in misers' veins who have denied themselves wine and warmth for eighty years and yet not given to the poor, he should reflect that there are people whose charity embraces even the prune

signalled a leg-bye like a man testing himself for locomotor-ataxia

An umpire signals a leg bye by raising one knee and touching it with his hand.  Locomotor ataxia is the inability to control the movements of one's limbs. Sufferers may need to look—or feel—what their legs are doing.

That is why Trumper … liked cricket in England much better than in Australia.

In Trumper's day matches in Australia's domestic first-class cricket (the Sheffield Shield competition), had no time limit, and were played to their conclusion. After 1927 matches were limited to four days' duration. When touring England with the Australian side, Trumper played in three-day matches against the counties.

South Wind

1917 novel by Norman Douglas, set on Capri, considered shocking at the time, with its large cast of characters of assorted moral and sexual persuasions.


1 July 1956

the wretched Minister

Derick Heathcoat-Amory was Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from October 1954 to January 1958.


4 July 1956

Made with eggs of course, not Bird's

Bird's: a commercial powder consisting of cornflour and salt, with added flavourings and colour, which when mixed with sugar and hot milk makes an ersatz custard sauce. Real custard is made with egg yolks, sugar and hot cream or milk.

Shades of the prison-house

Wordsworth: 'Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood':

'Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy'.

Wrench's editing strikes me as rather amateurish

In Wrench's Geoffrey Dawson and Our Times (1955).

Phroso or The Sowers

Phroso: novel by Anthony Hope (1897); The Sowers: novel by Seton Merriman (1895).

Trent's Last Case

By E C Bentley.

Father Browns

Series of short detective-stories by G K Chesterton, in which the problems are solved by the Roman Catholic priest, Father Brown.


8 July 1956

Caleb Balderston

Correctly 'Balderstone'.

What happened in the University Match?

It was drawn.


12 July 1956


General Certificate of Education. The 'Ordinary' level was the standard academic qualification for 16-year-olds from the 1950s to the 1980s.

those pundits at St John's Wood

Location of Lord's Cricket Ground and base of the MCC and the England selectors.


The Princess Casamassima, novel by Henry James (1886).

'stuffy little creatures, human beings', as Romain Rolland said

Quotation not traced

fighting with beasts at Ephesus

1 Corinthians 15:32: 'If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die.'


15 July 1956

The Craft of Letters in England

Edited by John Lehmann (1956). In addition to Stewart on biography, the other eleven contributors were Paul Bloomfield (the Bloomsbury tradition), Maurice Cranston ('The Literature of Ideas'), G S Fraser ('The Poet and His Medium'), Roy Fuller ('Poetry, Tradition and Belief'), L D Lerner ('The New Criticism'), Erik de Mauny ('The Progress of Translation'), Alan Pryce-Jones (autobiography), Philip Toynbee ('Experiment and the Future of the Novel'), C V Wedgwood (historical writing), T C Worsley (drama), and Francis Wyndham (modern novels).


18 July 1956

old Ervine on Shaw

St John Ervine's Bernard Shaw: His Life, Work, and Friends (1956).

Shaw was charming with one person, fidgety with two, and stood on his head with four

Lord Baldwin, politics apart, had a pretty wit and a talent for phrase- making. In a recent interview (writes " K.") with two lively writers, Hesketh Pearson and Hugh Kingsmill, the former (as Shaw's biographer) asked Lord Baldwin if he had ever met Mr Bernard Shaw. Lord Baldwin said that he had. Shaw had sought an interview with him in some connection which he had by now forgotten, and so interesting was his conversation that the Prime Minister (as he then was) had kept him talking for a whole hour. Lord Baldwin added: "Shaw is charming with one man, fidgety with two, and stands on his head for four." The Guardian, 18 December 1947, p. 3

The same description of Shaw is attributed elsewhere to the designer and director Edward Gordon Craig. (Peter Vansittart, In the Fifties (1995), p 10.

God's conversation with His son in Paradise Lost

Book 3, in which God tells His Son how wonderful He (God) is.

saeva indignatio

Savage indignation—contemptuous, particularly Swiftian, anger at human folly.

as Sir G. Sitwell told Osbert it was to expose oneself to the Germans

In a letter dated 16 December 1914, Sir George Sitwell advised his son Osbert, who was en route to fight in France, 'Directly you hear the first shell, retire … and remain there quietly until all firing has ceased.'


A lowbrow weekly published by the Daily Mirror group.

there shall be no 'You will, Oscar, you will' against me

Frank Harris, Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions (1910), p 35:

Carried away by [Whistler's] witty fling, Oscar cried:
'I wish I had said that.'
'You will, Oscar, you will,' came Whistler's lightning thrust.

Peter Quint

Malevolent—perhaps imagined—ghost in The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.


22 July 1956


Hugh Walpole.


H G Wells.

Edmund B.

Edmund Blunden.


26 July 1956

walking delicately, like Agag

1 Samuel 15:32: 'And Agag came unto him delicately'.

The cello is a lovely thing…

GWL had been an aspiring cellist at Cambridge, though a university magazine observed: 'When George Lyttelton practises the 'cello, all the cats in the district converge upon his rooms in the belief that one of their number is in distress.' (Humphrey Lyttelton, It Just Occurred to Me, 2007, p 57.)


3 August 1956

the third verse of the Boating song …

Kingsmill spoke of it to a friend who was 'in the fortunate position of not knowing the Eton Boating Song'.

Thanks to the bounteous sitter
Who sat not at all on his seat.
Down with the beer that's bitter
Up with the wine that's sweet
And Oh that some generous 'critter'
Would give us more ducks to eat!

Hesketh Pearson and Hugh Kingsmill, Talking of Dick Whittington (1947), p 121.

Forty Years On

The Harrow school song; but Blunden was not a Harrovian.

What about Laker?

J C Laker took an unprecedented, and never subsequently matched, nineteen wickets in the Old Trafford test against the Australians.

'Cleopatra/ was the Egypt answer to Montmartre…'

From Salad Days: see RH-D's letter of 15 January 1956.


5 August 1956

Say but one prayer for me twixt thy closed lips.

William Morris: 'Summer Dawn':

Pray but one prayer for me 'twixt thy closed lips
Think but one thought of me up in the stars.


8 August 1956

fumum et opes strepitumque

Horace: An Invitation to Maecenas (Ode 3, 29): 'the fumes, the splendour and the noise' (of Rome).

The Lanchester Tradition

Novel by G F Bradby (1919) set in a fictitious school.

the President of the Swiss Republic, whose name was on the tip of every-body's tongue but never emerged any further.

Beerbohm's essay 'Porro Unum…':

A friend of mine, who was there lately, tells me that he asked one Swiss after another what was the name of the President, and that they all sought refuge in polite astonishment at such ignorance, and, when pressed for the name, could only screw up their eyes, snap their fingers, and feverishly declare that they had it on the tips of their tongues. This is just as it should be. In an ideal republic there should be no one whose name might not at any moment slip the memory of his fellows.

old Mike

R A H Mitchell.

all houses of which Philistia was manifestly glad

Psalm 60:8 in the Book of Common Prayer: 'Philistia, be thou glad of me.'

lowest forms of pond life

Possibly a Wodehousean echo, cf Right Ho, Jeeves, Ch 3:

'I wonder, Bertie,' she proceeded … 'if you have the faintest conception how perfectly loathsome you look? A cross between an orgy scene in the movies and some low form of pond life.  I suppose you were out on the tiles last night?'

Frank Swinnerton's Background with Chorus

Recently published memoir. The Bookseller called it 'The most enchanting volume of bookish table talk produced in our time.'

'Minds innocent and quiet take this for a Hermitage'

Quoting Lovelace's poem 'To Althea from Prison'. (Hermitage is one of the finest and most characteristic of Rhône wines, unlikely to be confused with a claret of any kind.)

'much it grieved my heart to think What man has made of man'

Wordsworth: 'Lines—Written in Early Spring'.

The Earthly Paradise

A sequence of twenty-four long narrative poems by William Morris, combining Greek and Norse legends.

The Faerie

Spenser's The Faerie Queen, which consists of six books, each comprising twelve cantos.

Saintsbury's phrase 'the purged considerate mind of age'

Saintsbury used the phrase but he evidently borrowed it from Matthew Arnold's 1867 poem 'Fragment of Chorus of a Dejaneira':

Thither in your adversity
Do you betake yourselves for light,
But strangely misinterpret all you hear.
For you will not put on
New hearts with the inquirer's holy robe,
And purged, considerate minds.

Saintsbury, writing of George Sand in A History of the French Novel‚ Vol. 2, wrote:

I admit, in coming to George Sand, that this famous novelist has not, as a novelist, ever been a favourite of mine, that I have generally experienced some, and occasionally great, difficulty in reading her. Even the 'purged considerate mind' (without, I venture to hope, much dulling of the literary palate) which I have brought to the last readings necessary for this book, has but partially removed this difficulty.


12 August 1956

How all occasions do conspire against me!

Correctly, 'How all occasions do inform against me.' Hamlet 4:4.


18 August 1956

except for not extravagantly numerous breaches of the Seventh Commandment, I don't know that his villainy amounted to much

According to Sotheby's website, Lyttelton was 'a notorious rake, a wanton gambler and one of the greatest profligates of the age'. Before he had reached his twenty-fourth birthday, his debts to money-lenders amounted to £100,000. He married a rich heiress, but ran off to Paris with a barmaid. His notoriety spread across Europe.


C R L Fletcher: see biographies.


19 August 1956

Why Bourbon, Kentucky, was so named for the moment escapes me

Bourbon County was founded in 1785 and named after the French royal house, which had helped the recent rebellion in Britain's American colonies.


26 August 1956

ipsissima verba

The exact words.

when they were taking the hat round for Laker

Professional cricketers were not extravagantly well paid, and longer-serving players could be awarded a 'benefit' year, in which fund-raising events would be held on their behalf. Laker was given a benefit in 1956.


27 August 1956

Conybeare's dame

The Eton term for matron of a house.

Thin Ice

The theme of the novel is concealed homosexuality.

Flawner Bannal was quite right (in Fanny's First Play)

In the epilogue of Shaw's 1911 play.

old Swithun

Referring to the old belief that the weather on St Swithin's Day (15 July) will persist, wet or fine, for forty days.

'The rain dripped ceaselessly down from the hat which I stole from a scarecrow'

From a haiku by Takahama Kyoshi (1874-1959)

This old hat, stolen
From a scarecrow
How fiercely
The cold rain pelts it!


10 September 1956

'my fermenting and passionate youth'

Henry James, Notebooks: 'I have only to let myself go! So I have said to myself all my life—so I said to myself in the far-off days of my fermenting and passionate youth'.


27 September 1956

'Hazlitt's depth of taste'

Letter to B R Haydon, 10 January 1818.

Dryasdust in person

The Rev Dr Jonas Dryasdust was an invention of Walter Scott, personifying the tediously pedantic and unimaginative scholar. Carlyle took up the character and made extensive derisory reference to him.

Verrall … Shufflebotham … Sitwell

John E Littlewood, A Mathematician’s Miscellany, 1953:

It was the custom (c. 1905) to read the roll at lectures (in alphabetical order). Verrall came to Mr Shufflebottom, Mr Sitwell, burst into his crow of laughter, and never read the roll again.

Mr Cayenne

A character in Annals of the Parish, by John Galt (1779-1839):

I addressed myself to him again, saying that, 'I hoped he would soon be more at ease; and he should bear in mind that the Lord chasteneth whom he loveth.'
'The devil take such love!' was his awful answer, which was to me as a blow on the forehead with a mell.


This spelling of Sauternes was much used throughout the nineteenth century, and was seen in The Times as late as 1984.


29-30 September 1956

commiserate with him about the Bradman tragedy at Worcester

Both D G Bradman and C J Lyttelton had by this time retired from first class cricket. Possibly RH-D was talking of the 1938 match at Worcester in which Lyttelton's side dismissed all the Australians cheaply except for Bradman, who scored a match-winning 258.


3 October 1956

Weir of Hermiston

In Stevenson's unfinished novel of the same name.


6-7 October 1956

the piece about learning to smoke a pipe at Oxford

In My Aunt's Rhinoceros, and Other Reflections (1958), pp 216-218

The Iron King

By Maurice Druon.

he was expecting the Dalai Lama's brother to lunch

Thubten Norbu, elder brother of the Dalai Lama. RH-D published his autobiography Tibet is My Country in 1960.


10/11 October 1956

What do I know of Mrs Barbauld except 'Life we've been long together'?

From her 1825 poem 'Life':

Life! We've been long together,
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
'Tis hard to part when friends are dear;
Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;
Then steal away, give little warning,
Choose thine own time;
Say not Good night, but in some brighter clime
Bid me Good morning.

'By the time a man gets well into the seventies…'

From Virginibus Puerisque.

Nanga Parbat

Paul Bauer, The Siege of Nanga Parbat 1856-1953 (1956).

till my day 'ringeth to evensong'

The phrase exists in various forms. GWL is probably quoting from An Epitaph by Stephen Hawes (d. 1523) which he mentions in a later letter (1 April 1959):

For though the daye be never so long,
At last the bells ringeth to evensong


13 October 1956

when the point caught in a mandrake root—perhaps one got with child

John Donne, 'Song'

Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.


18 October 1956

careful pursy men

The OED defines 'pursy' as 'puckered' or 'wrinkled'

Mr Woodhouses

Henry Woodhouse is Emma's valetudinarian father in Jane Austen's novel.


21 October 1956


Marion Crawford.

Notes to Volume 2: October 1956 to December 1957


24 October 1956

the old Duke of Devonshire, who yawned


The 8th Duke of Devonshire's yawn in the middle of his own maiden speech impressed Disraeli, who commented, 'He'll do. To anyone who can betray such languor in such circumstances the highest posts should be open.' (Duchess of Devonshire, The House — A Portrait of Chatsworth, 1987, p 43.)

Conrad, Youth

An autobiographical short story written in 1898 and included as the first story in Conrad's 1902 volume Youth, a Narrative, and Two Other Stories:
Whenever the old dismantled craft pitched heavily with her counter high in the air, she seemed to me to throw up, like an appeal, like a defiance, like a cry to the clouds without mercy, the words written on her stern: 'Judea, London. Do or Die.' O youth! The strength of it, the faith of it, the imagination of it!

Crawfie literature

The Little Princesses, 1950, the memoirs of Marion Crawford, breaking the confidentiality of her former post as governess to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, were followed by a popular ghosted column in Woman's Own magazine.

'Pecunia non olet'

The Emperor Vespasian reintroduced a urine tax on public lavatories within Rome's great sewer system the Cloaca Maxima. When his son Titus criticised him, he supposedly pointed out that a coin did not smell ('Pecunia non olet'). (Suetonius, The Life of Vespasian 23.) In modern Italian, urinals are sometimes known as 'vespasiani'.


27 October 1956

Silas Wegg

From Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Ch 5.

'of repellent aspect, remotely connected with education'

Lady Bracknell's description of Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 3.

The Good Woman of Setzuan

Bertolt Brecht's Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, is now more usually translated as The Good Person of Setzuan. First produced, 1943. The cast of George Devine's 1956 production included Joan Plowright, John Osborne and Robert Stephens.


1 November 1956

a 'monstrous little voice'

Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1:2: 'let me play Thisby too, I'll speak in a monstrous little voice.'

'solitude of shepherds…'

From 'Once in the wind of morning' subtitled 'The Merry Guide' (A Shropshire Lad, 1896, XLII).

'No, I read no poetry now…'

Quoted by A C Benson in his introduction to An Eton Poetry Book (1925)

All passes. Art alone…

From Ars Vitrix, Dobson's English version of Théophile Gautier's L'Art.


Public school, founded 1553. Housman was a pupil there from 1870-77.

'about stone-time'

'Hell Fire' from Butler's Note-Book:

Many of the other shades took daily pleasure in gathering together about stone-time to enjoy the fun and to bet on how far the stone would roll.

Miss Savage

Eliza Mary Ann Savage, Butler's friend, confidante and correspondent from 1871 until her death in 1885.


4 November 1956

Daily Telegraph

Daily newspaper, established 1855. Originally Liberal in outlook, in the twentieth century it became a byword for right-wing views.

translated or cribbed?

Ars Victrix is not a straightforward translation; Dobson, as RH-D notes, called it 'Imitated from Théophile Gautier', and it consists of 40 lines to Gautier's 56, which begin:

Oui, l'oeuvre sort plus belle
D'une forme au travail
Vers, marbre, onyx, émail.

a good thirty-five years younger

In fact 29 years younger

…much the shortest

The aggregated playing time of the four acts of La bohème is less than two hours, although the King would have seen the piece at Covent Garden, with prolonged intervals extending the evening considerably.


8 November 1956

'What is known not always present'

From the preface to Johnson's Dictionary:

'…what is obvious is not always known, and what is known is not always present; that sudden fits of inadvertency will surprize vigilance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning; and that the writer shall often in vain trace his memory at the moment of need, for that which yesterday he knew with intuitive readiness, and which will come uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow.'

Dorian Gray

In Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which the main character, begins as 'a young man of extraordinary personal beauty' and dies as 'withered, wrinkled and loathsome of visage'.

so loathsome a father

The 9th Marquess of Queensberry.


William Shaw, headmaster of Bowes Academy in Greta Bridge, often held to be the model for Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby. Shaw was prosecuted in 1823 for criminal negligence when two children went blind while in his care at Bowes Academy. There are many similarities between Shaw and Squeers: both had only one eye; both had cards stating that their school was near Greta Bridge and would 'teach young gentlemen Latin, English, arithmetic, geography and geometry, and…board and lodge them for £20'.

'Natur' she's a rum 'un'

Nicholas Nickleby, Ch 45: 'It only shows what Natur is, sir,' said Mr Squeers. 'She's a rum 'un, is Natur.'

That inimitable page of W. Cory's

Quoted at length in GWL's letter of 29 November.


11 November 1956


'Thoughts on Dr Leavis', The New Statesman, 10 November. The piece was reprinted in Priestley's Thoughts in the Wilderness (1957). Priestley considered Leavis 'a sort of Calvinist' who 'makes one feel that he hates books and authors' in his 'firework displays of neurotic egoism' (pp 205, 206 and 208). Reviewing Priestley's book in The Saturday Review, Ben Ray Redman described Leavis as 'most humorless and pompous of living literary editors.'

an Agatha Christie play

If it was in the West End, either The Mousetrap at the Ambassadors or Towards Zero at the St James's.

the film of Moby Dick

1956 film based on Melville's novel, directed by John Huston and starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab.


15 November 1956

'smooth-sliding Mincius'

Milton, Lycidas, lines 86/87:

Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocall reeds,
That strain I heard was of a higher mood.


18 November 1956

unforgiving minute

Kipling's poem 'If':

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run.

his brother's funeral

Maurice Headlam had died on 2 November aged 83

'The bloom is gone and with the bloom go I'

From Matthew Arnold's 'Thyrsis':So I have heard the cuckoo's parting cry
From the wet field, through the vext garden trees,
Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze:
The bloom is gone and with the bloom go I!


22 November 1956

'with his belly standing astrote like a taber, and his null totty with drink'

More, De quatuor novissimis: 'What good can the great glutton do with his belly standing a strout like a tabour and his noll totty with drink, but balk up his brewes in the midst of his matters, or lie down and sleep like a swine?'

OED definitions:

  • a strout: variant of 'a-strut', sticking out, projecting stiffly; protruding, swollen, puffed up.
  • tabour: a small drum.
  • noll: the head ('In later use freq. with the epithet drunken').
  • totty: unsteady, shaky, tottery (physically or mentally); dizzy, dazed; tipsy, fuddled.

I am no clearer…than Mr Micawber was about gowans

Dickens, David Copperfield, Ch 28:

'I am not exactly aware,' said Mr Micawber, with the old roll in his voice, and the old indescribable air of saying something genteel, 'what gowans may be, but I have no doubt that Copperfield and myself would frequently have taken a pull at them, if it had been feasible.'

'then they will molest you rarely'

Letter from Johnson to Boswell, 8 April 1780.

…make it an invariable and obligatory law to yourself, never to mention your own mental diseases; if you are never to speak of them, you will think on them but little, and if you think little of them, they will molest you rarely. When you talk of them, it is plain that you want either praise or pity; for praise there is no room, and pity will do you no good; therefore, from this hour speak no more, think no more, about them.

Junior Ganymede, of which Jeeves was a member

Club for valets and butlers in Curzon Street, W1. The club's rules require members to contribute to the club book candid information about the people they have worked for, so that fellow members can be better informed about prospective employers. The contents of the book are supposed to be strictly confidential to club members, though Jeeves stretches a point in the last chapter of The Code of the Woosters.


25 November 1956

All occasions do inform against us

Hamlet 4:4

How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge!

Time and Tide

Literary and political magazine founded in 1920 by Lady Rhondda. Ceased publication in 1977.

'We work in the dark…'

Henry James, The Middle Years (1893).

Duff Cooper Memorial Prize

Instituted in 1956 in Duff Cooper's memory. Awarded annually for the best work of history, biography, or political science published in English or French.

Alan Moorehead's Gallipoli

Published by Hamish Hamilton in 1956. The book also won the Sunday Times literary prize and gold medal for 1955/56.


29 November 1956

Floreat Etona amicabilis concordia

King's has formal ties with Eton, Winchester, and New College, Oxford, dating back to 1444, a four-way relationship known as the Amicabilis Concordia.

W. Cory on public school education—the last word, me judice

From Cory's 1861 tract Eton Reform.


2 December 1956

the P.M.'s last fortnight at Goldeneye

Anthony Eden was convalescing at Ian Fleming's house in Jamaica.

Annals of the Parish

1821 volume of stories by John Galt, telling of life in the Ayrshire town of Dalmailing during the period of the Industrial Revolution.

'I am a willow...

Both are from poems by Emerson: 'Musquetaquid' and 'Terminus'.

Do you remember Old English?

Galsworthy's 1924 dramatisation of his 1916 short story 'A Stoic.' In both play and story the crux of the plot is an old man's calculated suicide by eating a rich and elaborate dinner, with many courses and as many wines, against his doctor's orders.


5 December 1956


Dwight Eisenhower.

'we are for the dark'

Antony and Cleopatra, 5:2

…the bright day is done,
And we are for the dark.

I wonder how true it is that Lloyd Osbourne wrote practically all of it

Osbourne conceived the story and wrote the first draft. Stevenson wrote in April 1888 to Miss Ferrier ('Coggie'), that Osbourne 'wrote a tale this winter, which appeared to me so funny I have taken it in hand.'

the Athenaeum

Literary and scientific periodical, published between 1828 and 1923.

Tennyson's Queen Mary

1875 drama, in five acts and twenty-three scenes, depicting Mary Tudor, Phillip II and Princess Elizabeth. The Times gave a favourable review, but the play has not entered the regular repertory.

Christie Johnstone was immensely superior to Vanity Fair

Novels by Charles Reade (1855) and Thackeray (1848).

Landor's remark hits the nail firmly: 'We admire by tradition (or fashion) and criticise by caprice.'

'Tradition', not 'fashion'. Quoted by Augustine Birrell in 'A Good Book and a Bad One' in Selected Essays 1884-1907.

Germane soup

Potage purée St Germain. Cream soup of pea and lettuce.

cutlet soubees

Côtelettes de mouton à la Soubise. Cutlets of lamb or mutton with a creamed onion sauce. Popular among Victorian diners.

cheese remmykin

(or ramekin) a variant of soufflé, served as a savoury at the end of dinner.

This from memory; I don't think it is inaccurate.

It is accurate in every particular.


Beetroot soup; the most usual English spelling is 'borscht'.

King's Founder's Feast

Annual dinner in memory of Henry VI, founder of the college.

one with Nineveh and Tyre

Kipling, 'Recessional':

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Roger's windfall from the Evening Standard for his Suffragette book

In 1956 Roger Fulford won the £5000 Evening Standard book prize for his study of the Suffragette struggle before 1914. Votes for Women: The Story of a Struggle was published in hardback in 1957 by Faber & Faber.

a mere Rahab

A harlot. Joshua 2:1: 'And they went, and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lay there.'

Basil Willey's More Nineteenth Century Studies

More Nineteenth Century Studies: A Group of Honest Doubters. As well as Newman, Willey considered Tennyson, J A Froude, Mark Rutherford and John Morley.

that delightful passage, in Vale I think

Moore's three volumes of autobiography were Ave, Salve and Vale, known collectively as Hail and Farewell. Moore's critique of Newman was in fact in Salve. He set out to debunk Newman's Apologia pro Vita sua for its poor prose, which Moore contended, revealed equally poor thinking.

his brother the colonel

Colonel Maurice Moore, whom Moore portrays in the passage as representative of the unbiased reader.

Kingsley had the better of the argument

The ODNB observes that Newman 'scored easy debating points' against Kingsley, 'whose reputation suffered accordingly, but commentators at the time and subsequently disagreed about the merits of the case.'

felix opportunitate mortis

Tacitus, Agricola 45: 'Tu vero felix, Agricola, non vitae tantum claritate, sed etiam opportunitate mortis.' A sentiment frequently expressed by Latin writers: 'lucky in the timing of your death'—dying before the encroachment of age, tribulation or disgrace.


9 December 1956

Diana Cooper's memoirs

RH-D published three volumes of Diana Cooper's memoirs: The Rainbow Comes and Goes (1958), The Light of Common Day (1959) and Trumpets from the Steep (1960). All the titles are taken from Wordsworth's 'Ode on Intimations of Immortality'.

My ardours for surprize now lost
The original reads "My ardours for 'emprize ....'  The OED defines the word as 'An undertaking, an enterprise; esp. one of a bold, adventurous, or chivalrous nature'.

Noel Annan…his book on Leslie Stephen

Leslie Stephen: the Godless Victorian (1951).


13 December 1956

his sordid thefts from the British Museum

Wise (1859–1937) bought imperfect quarto texts and stole replacements for the missing or damaged leaves from copies in the British Museum; these thefts were not discovered until the 1950s.

Agnes Grey

1847 novel by Anne Brontë, about a governess—possibly based on Brontë's own experiences.

Strachey-Woolf letters

Letters of Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey, edited by Leonard Woolf and James Strachey, 1956. Reviewing the book in the TLS, William Plomer's verdict was similar to GWL's; he described the correspondence as 'disappointing' and remarked on its occasional 'self-consciousness and stiltedness'. (TLS, 7 December 1956, p 721)

Here endeth the epistle of George the Apostle

Book of Common Prayer: the Order for Daily Morning or Evening Prayer: 'And the Epistle ended, he shall say, Here endeth the Epistle.'

Pluck and Button

Puck and Bottom, according to Shakespeare.

the Welsh Board

Several regional examining bodies were entitled to award the General Certificate of Education. Some were generally believed to be more rigorous than others.


16 December 1956

Spiced beef ... massaged with a different herb every day

Spiced beef was once a traditional Christmas dish in English country houses. The great food writer Elizabeth David gives a recipe for it that calls for a 10—12 lb joint of silverside rubbed daily with sugar (6 oz), saltpetre (10 oz), salt (6 oz), pepper (2 oz), allspice (10 oz) and juniper berries (2 oz) across 9—14 days, before slow braising for at least 5 hours. A joint of beef on so lavish a scale was a fairly recent luxury in 1956, the wartime and post-war rationing of meat having ended only two years earlier.


Oscar Wilde.


Henry Irving.

Fleming's proofs

Invasion 1940—An Account of the German Preparations and the British Counter-Measures (1957).

The Times

England's oldest national newspaper, founded in 1785 as 'The Daily Universal Register', changed in 1788 to the present title. All other newspapers with 'Times' in their title, from The Times of India to The New York Times, derive their titles from the original.


20 December 1956

'Counting fish as nothing'

Lamb, The Last Essays of Elia, 'To the Shade of Elliston':

Those who knew Elliston, will know the manner in which he pronounced the latter sentence of the few words I am about to record. One proud day to me he took his roast mutton with us in the Temple, to which I had superadded a preliminary haddock. After a rather plentiful partaking of the meagre banquet, not unrefreshed with the humbler sort of liquors, I made a sort of apology for the humility of the fare, observing that for my own part I never ate but of one dish at dinner. 'I too never eat but one thing at dinner'—was his reply—then after a pause—'reckoning fish as nothing.'

How many dishes were there at the Caliph's feast…

From Beckford's Vathek:

The Caliph…sat down indeed to eat; but, of the three hundred dishes that were daily placed before him, he could taste of no more than thirty-two.

Clive Bell on his friends

Old Friends, 1956. Bell's reminiscences of the Bloomsbury set: Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, Virginia Woolf (his sister in law), Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell; and also of Cocteau, Derain, Matisse, Poulenc and Satie.


A set of writers, artists, and intellectuals living in or associated with Bloomsbury in the early 20th century.

Housman's terrier and rat

Letter to Seymour Adelman, 6 May 1928: 'I can no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat; but he knows a rat when he comes across one.'




30 December 1956


Dining club, founded c. 1735 by John Rich and Lord Peterborough, originally called the Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. Reformed several times thereafter. The club currently (2019) meets at 9 Irving Street, off Leicester Square. Members of the original and successor clubs have included Samuel Johnson, George IV when Prince of Wales, Henry Irving, W S Gilbert, Edward Elgar, Harold Macmillan, Osbert Lancaster and Stephen Fry.


3 January 1957

'shades of the prison house'

Wordsworth, 'Ode—Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood':

Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy

books selected for their unreadability

The CUP list for December 1956 consisted of:

  • Atomic Weapons and East-West Relations, by Professor P M S Blackett
  • Automation, Friend or Foe? by R H Macmillan
  • The Approach to Self-Government by Sir Ivor Jennings
  • International Law Options by Lord McNair
  • Some Observations on American Education by Robert M Hutchings ('an explanation and criticism of the American university system, written for British readers by a former Chancellor of the University of Chicago').
    (The Times, 6 December 1956, p 12.)

The Dame

Eton term for matron of a house.

A novel by Vicki Baum

The Mustard Seed (1953).


5 January 1957

The John Carter

Books and Book-Collectors, published by RH-D Ltd in 1956. Essays on great book collectors, typographers, the collecting of detective fiction and the Wise forgeries.

large selection of Edmund Blunden's poems…

Edmund Blunden—Poems of Many Years. Collins 1957.

Collected Edition…of S.T. Coleridge

The Coleridge edition was completed by the publishers Routledge after RH-D's retirement.

my Newman

Newman: Prose and Poetry, selected by Geoffrey Tillotson, published by RH-D in 1957. 842 pages long.

Dickens Fellowship

Founded in 1902 to promote the works of Dickens and pursue the social reforms he championed.

Biography of William Wetmore Story

William Wetmore Story and his Friends (1903).


10 January 1957

Humpty D said

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter VI, 'Humpty Dumpty':

'…there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents –'
'Certainly,' said Alice.
'And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'

Brigg umbrella

Brigg and Sons, established in 1836, merged in 1943 with a leather goods company to form Swaine Adeney Brigg of St James's Street. Along with Fox's in the City and James Smith and Sons of New Oxford Street, one of the most prestigious of umbrella-makers.

Poole trousering

Henry Poole, Savile Row tailor, established 1806.

Thomas footwear

Thomas of St James’s. Bootmaker to Prince Albert and other luminaries.

Not to Eden

Anthony Eden resigned as Prime Minister on 9 January. Churchill had earlier jokingly speculated that Eden might catch myxomatosis, the disease of rabbits, but there is no doubt that Eden's illness was genuine rather than diplomatic. (D R Thorpe, Alec Douglas-Home, 1967, p 186)


The Daily Mirror. Popular, left-leaning daily newspaper.

New Statesman

Weekly political and literary magazine, of left-of-centre views.


The Times Literary Supplement, a weekly literary review. It first appeared in 1902 as a supplement to The Times, and became a separate publication in 1914.

adolescent pretentiousness of Colin Wilson's

Wilson's The Outsider, published in 1956 when the author was 24.

Flora Finching

A character in Little Dorrit.

Leopards in the Night

See next note.


12 January 1957

Leopards in the Night…The Trumpeting Herd

Published by RH-D, 1955 and 1957. The first is subtitled, 'Man-Eaters and Cattle Raiders in Nyasaland'. The author was a colonial official who, in the course of his duties, had perilous encounters with leopards, elephants and other wild animals.

Holker Hall

Large house, mostly Victorian, near Grange over Sands (now part of Cumbria: in 1957, in Lancashire). The Holker Cavendishes are a branch of the family of the Dukes of Devonshire.

Swedenborg Hall…Swedenborgians

The Swedenborg Society translates, prints and publishes works by the Swedish scientist, philosopher and visionary, Emanuel Swedenborg. It is based in Bloomsbury.

her Burne-Jones relations

Angela Thirkell's mother was the daughter of Edward Burne-Jones.

Bell's Life in London

Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 'Combining, with the News of the Week, a rich Repository of Fashion, Wit, and Humour, and the interesting Incidents of REAL LIFE'. Merged with Sporting Life in 1886. Dickens's work appeared in the paper in the 1830s before being revised for hardback publication.

thirty-nine Muses…

The nine Muses, in Greek mythology, embodied and inspired the arts. The Thirty Nine Articles [of Religion] drawn up in 1563 are the standing orders of the Church of England.


16 January 1957

the Cockerell letters

The Best of Friends. Further Letters to Sydney Carlyle Cockerell. Edited by Viola Meynell and published by RH-D in 1956.

the Moore

Possibly GM—Memories of George Moore by Nancy Cunard, published by RH-D in 1956. The Moore letters to Lady Cunard were not published until later in 1957.


G A Nasser.

Bachelor of Powlgarh

usually 'of Powlagarh'. An exceptionally large tiger of the Kaladhungi forest in the 1920s.

'rolls darkling down the torrent of his fate'

Johnson, 'The Vanity of Human Wishes', lines 343-346:

Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,
Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?

Mrs Pat

Mrs Patrick Campbell.

on the mat for writing 'from whence'

Cardus tried to defend himself by pointing out to Scott that 'from whence' was used by respected writers including Fielding. Scott replied, 'Mr Fielding would not use it twice in my paper.' (Neville Cardus, Autobiography, Hamish Hamilton, 1984 (orig. Collins, 1947) pp 112-113.)

Ascham Society

Eton masters' literary society.


19 January 1957

who was PM at the time of the Battle of Waterloo?

Lord Liverpool.

both Sunday papers

The Observer and The Sunday Times (there were other Sunday papers, but…)


Public school at Fleetwood, Lancashire.


A rare slip of RH-D's pen: he meant grisly.

The Battle of the River Plate

1956 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, depicting the Royal Navy's successful attack on the German battleship Graf Spee in the South Atlantic.

Lily Langtry

Usually written 'Lillie'.


24 January 1957

what is the collective noun?

According to Chambers' Dictionary it is a leap of leopards. The OED says 'Leap—An alleged name for a 'company' of leopards. Obs,' its only citation dating from 1486.

'fearful symmetry'…'deadly terrors'

Blake, 'The Tyger':

What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

The Idea of a University

1854 work, expounding Newman's views on the aim of education.

Lead Kindly Light

Hymn with words by Newman, music by John Bacchus Dykes.

Abide With Me

Hymn with words by Henry Francis Lyte, usually sung to the earlier melody 'Eventide' by William Henry Monk.

Fight the Good Fight

Hymn with words by John Monsell, sung to various tunes, including 'Duke Street' attributed to John Hatton, 'Pentecost' by William Boyd and the English traditional melody 'Shepton-Beauchamp'.


Epic poem by Walter Scott about the Battle of Flodden, published in 1808.

Nightingale ode

The longest of Keats's odes, written in 1819.

Old Shaw and his alphabet

Shaw's will left the bulk of his estate for the reform of English spelling. The courts later directed that only £8,300 should be used for that purpose; an edition of Androcles and the Lion was printed in 1962 in the resulting phonetic alphabet of forty letters.

Majestic river Oxus

In Arnold's 'Sohrab and Rustum':

The shorn and parcell'd Oxus strains along…But the majestic river floated on, Out of the mist and hum of that low land.

not at all a favourite author of Mrs Boffin's

Mrs Boffin: a kind, homely character in Dickens's Our Mutual Friend. Why she might be thought particularly hostile to the twentieth century works of Margaret Mead is not clear.

A Study of the Pelvic Type 

A Study of Pelvic Type, and its Relationship to Body Build in White Women. By William Walter and Herbert Thoms with Ruth Christian Twaddle, Chicago, American Medical Association, 1939.


26 January 1957

Byron! thou should'st be living at this hour

Parodying Wordsworth's 'London 1802': 'Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour'.

Bolton Evening News

Founded 1867, selling in Bolton, Bury, Leigh and elsewhere in Lancashire. Renamed The Bolton News in 2006.


31 January 1957

The Slave Girl

The Slave Woman, directed by Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, starring Rhonda Fleming as Semiramis. The film appears to have been given several different titles including The Courtesan of Babylon, Semiramis and Queen of Babylon.

'He stumps along by your side…'

Justice Holmes in the Holmes-Laski Letters, 22 January 1922: 'He stumps along by your side, a bore in a brown coat, and suddenly he goes up and you find that your companion was an angel.'

his feelings at school about Lord Clare

Byron's Diary, 1821:

My school-friendships were with me passions (for I was always violent,)…That with Lord Clare begun one of the earliest, and lasted longest—being only interrupted by distance—that I know of. I never hear the word 'Clare' without a beating of the heart even now, and I write it with the feelings of 1803-4-5, ad infinitum.

Fanny by Gaslight…Esther Waters

Sadleir's 1940 novel and Moore's of 1894 depict cads taking advantage of young women, with regrettable consequences.


3 February 1957

Post…propter hoc

Post hoc ergo propter—'after this therefore because of this', a classic logical fallacy.


7 February 1957

thirty-two chewings of every mouthful

H C G Matthew, Gladstone: 1875-1898, p 304: 'Children learned…to emulate the great statesman by chewing each mouthful 32 times.'

to avert shock after a fall, one should remain some time in situ

I can find no citation for this.

Lives of the Poets

Johnson's Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, to the Works of the English Poets were first collected in 1781. More than fifty poets are included, not all of them of the highest rank.

The D.N.B.…the extreme dryness of the author's English

The DNB article on Admiral Hood was written in 1891 by J K Laughton.


14 February 1957

the place in the 'Milton' where the Doctor splits an infinitive?

Para 52: 'Milton was too busy to much miss his wife.'

Depend upon it, Sir…

Not, as far as I can find, a quotation; GWL in mock-Johnsonian vein, evidently.


Russian peasant.


17 February 1957

as at Tring

Champneys health farm at Tring was opened in 1925 by the naturopath Stanley Lief.

At the Drop of a Hat

Written and performed by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.

imitation of a tennis-umpire at Wimbledon

'Tried by the Centre Court', in which Flanders as 'the umpire upon whom the sun never sets', presiding over an interminable ladies' singles match, interspersed the umpire's announcements of the score with his private, exasperated thoughts:

…year after year as I've sat on court after court
I've been struck by the thought:
They are bashing a ball with the gut of a cat.
What a sport!
You may think it's tedious seen from down there
It's ludicrous seen from above!


21 February 1957

the Boniface of December

GWL's allusion is unclear. The OED cites the name of the jovial innkeeper in Farquhar's Beaux' Stratagem, 1707, 'whence taken as the generic proper name of innkeepers', but why this implies obesity is not apparent.

the tastes of Sir Gerald Kelly

GWL made innuendos about Kelly's moral outlook earlier (12 July 1956) and later (8 June 1957) in similarly cryptic manner.

Goldsmith's bow

Quotation not traced.

as Browning did the unseen

Browning: 'Epilogue'

No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time
Greet the unseen with a cheer!

'…abstract meditation…'

Some texts print this as 'abstracted meditation'.


24 February 1957

ad misericordiam

To mercy or pity.

the new Michael Innes detective story

Appleby Plays Chicken.

Charles Morgan's novel

Challenge to Venus.


28 February 1957

quot medici tot sententiae

There are as many opinions as there are doctors. A play on Terence: Quot homines, tot sententiae.

Swithin Forsyte…

Galsworthy, Salvation of a Forsyte, Ch 1:

Swithin Forsyte said angrily: 'I can't get things properly cooked here; at the club I get spinach decently done.' The bed-clothes jerked at the tremor of his legs.

Emma…is very long

Emma and Mansfield Park are of almost identical length.

brilliant Don Leon poem of Colman's

Poem attributed variously to Byron or George Colman the younger (1762-1836). A hymn to homosexuality, ending with the lines:

And like the satirist, who gravely said,
'When wives are tiresome take a boy to bed.'

'The moping idiot and the madman gay'

Crabbe: 'The Village'.


3 March 1957


Economic philosophy propounded by Chesterton, Belloc and others in pursuance of the principles of social justice articulated by the Roman Catholic Church.


6 March 1957

'somebody's not using Amplex'

Amplex: manufacturer of deodorants and breath-fresheners, whose advertising slogan was 'Someone isn't using Amplex'.

Ethel Colburn Mayne dismissed Don Leon as 'little filthy brochures' telling of 'things unspeakable in villainous Alexandrines

Mayne, Byron, Ch 16, but GWL misrepresents her: she was dismissing not Don Leon but scandalmongers at the time of the Byrons' separation:

For long the Byron Separation remained a mystery. Rumour swelled and died and swelled again; writers of every class exhausted themselves in conjecture, or maintained that they had access to irrefutable and decisive information. Serious books, frivolous books; Mrs Beecher Stowe's revelations, followed by Quarterly and Edinburgh and Blackwood articles; commentaries on the poems, loading every line with a narrow personal significance; pamphlets virtuous and vicious; little filthy contraband brochures that purported to be 'Letters from Lord to Lady Byron', and told of things unspeakable in villainous alexandrines—such a rank growth of printed matter crowded about a problem with which the public had all along been made too familiar, and in the end left that problem precisely where the Separation Proceedings had found it.

They are not Alexandrines

An Alexandrine is a line of verse with twelve syllables (iambic hexameter). 'Don Leon' is in iambic pentameter, so has ten syllables to a line; however, (see previous note), Mayne was not referring to Don Leon when she talked of Alexandrines.

'Mid hush'd, cool rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed'

'Ode to Psyche'

simply caviare

Hamlet 2:2:

…for the play, I remember, pleas'd not the million, 'twas caviare to the general…


17 March 1957

'Youth and the sea! Glamour and the sea!'

Conrad, 'Youth'.

La Dame aux Camélias

By Alexandre Dumas fils, his own dramatisation of his novel of the same title. The year after the first production, Dumas' play became the basis for Verdi's La traviata.


Tragedy by Jean Racine. The Times commented: 'Mme Edwige Feuillère plays Phèdre with great restraint…It is a finely controlled study of character, persuasive in detail but not in total effect overwhelming.'


20 March 1957


Governing board of a school.

Olympic Games

Competitors from the UK won six gold medals at the Melbourne Olympics. The fencing gold was won by Gillian Mary Sheen.

John Gilpin

Cowper, 'The Diverting History of John Gilpin'

The Calender, right glad to find
His friend in merry pin,
Returned him not a single word,
But to the house went in.

Like the dog Rab ...

John Brown, Rab and His Friends:

The same large, heavy, menacing, combative, sombre, honest countenance, the same deep inevitable eye, the same look—as of thunder asleep, but ready—neither a dog nor a man to be trifled with.

Abinger Harvest

A collection of articles, essays, reviews, and poems, written over a period of thirty years by Forster. Published 1936.

Two Cheers for Democracy 

Second collection of essays and articles by Forster, published in 1951.

Perhaps that’s what old age is, Swinny...
Frank Swinnerton, Background with Chorus, 1956, p. 152

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia: novella by Johnson. His only long work of fiction.

The Eye-witness

Collection of short stories by Belloc, divided into 'Historical Fiction', 'Fables and Fantasies' and 'Satire'.

Private Business

Variety of tutorial at Eton.


24 March 1957

'the forest is like a harp'

Not traced, if, as RH-D supposed, it is a quotation.


28 March 1957

'No such almug-trees were seen in the land'

1 Kings 10:12:

And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.

Almug trees are sandalwood.

I am almost certain that…'The forest is like a harp' is in Shelley, but I cannot place it.

GWL may possibly have been thinking of 'Make my thy lyre, even as the forest is' in 'Ode to the West Wind'.

Irving playing a scene from The Bells

'Mathias staggers through the curtain. His face is livid with terror ... waxen features drained of blood. His hands claw at his throat. A thin strangled voice forces its way through invisible constrictions. "Take the rope from my neck ... take the rope from my neck!" ... The pupils of the eyes roll upwards. The ghastly mask is petrified and tinted with the greyness of death. The limbs grow cold. As he falls, his wife catches him in her arms.'

News Chronicle

Daily newspaper, of liberal leaning, by this time in decline. Its sales suffered from its editorial opposition to the Suez campaign. In 1960 it was absorbed into the highly illiberal Daily Mail.

Illustrated London News

Magazine, founded 1842. Published weekly until 1971, and at longer intervals thereafter.

St John Ervine's Life of General Booth

God's Soldier: General William Booth (2 vols, Macmillan, 1934).


4 April 1957

Hugh Walpole's vis-à-vis Wodehouse apropos of Belloc's eulogy

In RH-D's Hugh Walpole, p 403, Wodehouse is quoted thus:

Hilaire Belloc had said on the radio something to the effect that the greatest of all writers today was p G. Wodehouse—purely, presumably, as a gag, to get a rise out of serious-minded authors whom he disliked—and Hugh couldn't leave this alone…Eventually a plausible solution occurred to him. 'Ah, well,' he said, 'the old man's getting very old.'

The exchange is also recounted in Wodehouse's Performing Flea (letter of 1 August 1945).

Chesterton's crack

Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 'The Flag of the World':

The same women who are ready to defend their men through thick and thin are (in their personal intercourse with the man) almost morbidly lucid about the thinness of his excuses or the thickness of his head.


John E Littlewood A Mathematician's Miscellany, 1953:

It was the custom (c. 1905) to read the roll at lectures (in alphabetical order). Verrall came to Mr Shufflebottom, Mr Sitwell, burst into his crow of laughter, and never read the roll again. At a Scholarship examination, Dykes pointed out to me that the list had the consecutives Alchin and Alcock.

Joxer Daly

In J M Synge's play The Playboy of the Western World.

Contemporary Review

Independent monthly journal, dealing with questions of the day including politics, international affairs, literature and the arts.


6 April 1957

Doctor at Large

Film directed by Ralph Thomas, starring Dirk Bogarde, Donald Sinden and James Robertson Justice, based on Richard Gordon's 1955 comic novel of the same name.

The skies…are ashen and sober…The air bites shrewdly

Poe, 'Ulalume—A Ballad'; Hamlet 1:4


14 April 1957

louse in the locks of literature

Originally '…on the locks…'—attributed to Tennyson by Edmund Gosse, describing the literary critic John Churton Collins (1848-1908).

'sweated in the eye of Phoebus'…sleep in Elysium

Henry V 4:1

But, like a lackey, from the rise to set
Sweats in the eye of Phoebus, and all night
Sleeps in Elysium.

the leading lady

The actress originally cast, Diane Cilento, was ill and Zuleika was played by Mildred Mayne. The Times commented '…not perhaps all that Beerbohm painted her, but she is always engaging and she sings easily and well.' In The Manchester Guardian, Philip Hope-Wallace wrote:

What the incomparable Max would have thought of Mildred Mayne…one fails to imagine. She is a slim and vivid young lady whose person we know less for her stage experience than for the fact that her picture, advertising corsets, catches the eye in the Underground railway. She looked delightful in a series of stunning Edwardian hobble-skirt frocks designed for her by Osbert Lancaster, but though she copes competently with the part of the siren of Oxford, she does not seem naturally to have the voice, the personality or the wit for the part.

Zuleika ran from 11 April to 27 July.

reached a Wagnerian crescendo

RH-D was confusing crescendo with fortissimo.

the new detective story by Nicholas Blake

End of Chapter. The TLS observed that the classical detective form was in safe hands as long as Blake was writing.

the terrible poem…

'The Destroyer of a Soul'.


17 April 1957

'The public is an old woman…'

From Carlyle's Journal, 1835.

Birrell hearing some­one decry George Eliot

The Holmes-Laski Letters, p 1022:

Birrell…said that he once had seen a man treat George Eliot rudely: 'I sat down in a corner,' said Birrell, 'and prayed to God to blast him. God did nothing, and ever since I have been an agnostic.'

Livres sans nom

'Books by an anonymous author'. Title of five anonymous pamphlets by Madan.

'in the sea of life enisled'

Arnold, 'To Marguerite'

Yes: in the sea of life enisled,
With echoing straits between us thrown.
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
We mortal millions live alone.


21 April 1957

Alan Bullock's review  in to-day's Observer is the first one that has seen the point

Professor Bullock praised Fleming for refraining from excessive military detail on the one hand and avoiding 'another stirring chapter of Patriotic History' on the other. 'Mr Fleming avoids both mistakes and stirs professional historians to envy the skill with which he recaptures the elusive temper of that far-off summer.' (The Observer, 21 April 1957, p 10)

Jonathan Cape

Publisher, head of the eponymous firm founded in 1919. RH-D was an employee and junior partner between 1933 and 1945.

Union Street

A selection of Causley's poems written between 1943 and 1956. The major themes are the war at sea, and the poet's native Cornwall. RH-D's edition, published in March 1957, had a preface by Dame Edith Sitwell.


25 April 1957

I read Ian Fleming

From Russia, With Love.

both he and M.

M is the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in From Russia With Love and the other Bond novels.

Under Milk Wood

Radio play by Dylan Thomas.

Abraham to…St Simeon

Abraham was the patriarch of the Old Testament; St Simeon was a Christian ascetic saint who lived alone for 37 years on a small platform on top of a pillar.

Racing Demon

A boisterous card game, played by children and adults.


28 April 1957


Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, the home of Diana Cooper's family.

That Turkish chap

Darko Kerim Bey, a charming bon vivant, head of British intelligence in Turkey.

I asked Ian if Bond was dead, and he said NO

Reviewing From Russia With Love in the TLS Julian Symons asked, 'Is Bond's apparent death only a new version of the Reichenbach Falls, or should the book really be sub-titled "The Last Lay of James Bond"?' (TLS, 12 April 1957, p 230)

Peter says that…it must have been written by…

The TLS archive states that review was by Professor Eric Birley (1906-1995), whose academic speciality was archaeology; he served in Military Intelligence throughout the Second World War and was Chief of the German Military Document Section.


Within the Directorate of Military Intelligence there were departments (MI 1 to MI 19) with their own specialisms. MI 14 was responsible for aerial reconnaissance.


2 May 1957

seam and gusset and band

From Thomas Hood's 'The Song of the Shirt' (1843) a poem against the exploitation of workers in the cheap clothing trade:

Till the brain begins to swim;
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream!

Daily Sketch

The Daily Sketch, a rightward-leaning, less successful, rival of The Daily Mirror. Ceased publication in 1971.

'Where shall wisdom be found'

Anthem with text from Job 28. The best-known setting is by William Boyce.

'fine confused feeding'

Description applied both to a haggis and a sheep's head; author unknown, though sometimes attributed to Dr Johnson without citation. Possibly derived from Lat. coena dubia, 'a doubtful dinner'—one so lavish that one does not know what to eat first.

Fortnum, Carreras and Moss Bros

Respectively, department store famous for groceries, tobacco company, and men's outfitters.

Irish R.M.

A series of comic stories by the Anglo-Irish novelists Somerville and Ross.


History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.

Prospero's isle

In The Tempest.


5 May 1957

'…what I say three times is true'

Lewis Carroll The Hunting of the Snark:

Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.

all the remaining correspondence between Henry James and H.G. Wells

Henry James and H G Wells—The Correspondence Between Le Maître and Le Gamin edited by Leon Edel and Gordon N Ray, published by RH-D in 1958.

P.E.N. Club

London, and later international, association of writers, founded in 1921. Its first members included Joseph Conrad, Elizabeth Craig, Bernard Shaw, and H G Wells.


9 May 1957

'Eckermann' on p 8, and 'star sown' on p 27

In the second impression of Union Street the first of GWL's suggested changes was made, but 'star-sewn' remained (in the poem 'Elizabethan Sailor's Song'). In Causley's 1992 Collected Poems the phrase is changed to 'star-strewn':

Then shall we wander in star-strewn meadows
Frosted by ancient October
Where ice like iron rims the shadows
And never be sober.

an essay of D. MacCarthy in which he described the gait of an antelope and used the word 'elegant'

Possibly a reference to MacCarthy's 1918 essay 'The Wonder Zoo' in Experience, p 104: 'ostriches are launching themselves about with that jaunty, springy gait, at once so elegant and so ridiculous.'

'manners were less pure, but his character was equally amiable with that of his father'

Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Ch 7.

Prince Leboo

A racehorse of the 1860s (named after Prince Leboo a youthful native of the Pelew Islands, who was brought over to England in July 1784, and succumbed to smallpox in December 1784).

MacLaren…was an extremely stupid, prejudiced and pig-headed man

MacLaren had at the least the modesty to say, comparing himself with Victor Trumper of Australia, 'I was supposed to be a batsman in the Grand Manner. Compared to Victor, I was as a cab-horse to a Derby winner.' Quoted in Vernon Scanell, Sporting Literature—An Anthology (1987), p 254

Gents v Players

An annual Lord's fixture in which leading amateur cricketers ('the Gentlemen') played against a team of professionals ('the Players'). Last played in 1962, after which the old class distinctions were finally relaxed.


11 May 1957

Maud Emerald

See biography of Lady Cunard.

'capable Scot'

R L Stevenson and L Osbourne, The Wrong Box, Ch 1: 'A young but capable Scot was chosen as manager'.


12 May 1957

I think that excellent remark about the motto of the perfect wife was made by Edward Thomas and reported by E.S.P. Haynes in his Lawyer's Notebook, though I suspect that you have improved the wording a trifle

RH-D's suspicion was unfounded; GWL quoted the line as printed in Haynes's book (p 169).

the Grandstand at Lords

RH-D was correct: the original grandstand at Lord's, built in 1867, was replaced in 1926 by one designed by Sir Herbert Baker (who presented the weather vane of Old Father Time). Baker's grandstand was demolished in 1996, replaced by a new one designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners.


15 May 1957

I read somewhere that Lloyd Osborne wrote practically all The Wrong Box

Osbourne wrote the first draft of the novel 1887 (when it was titled The Finsbury Tontine), Stevenson revised it in 1888 (as A Game of Bluff) and again in 1889 when it was given its final title. Stevenson thought Osbourne's original 'quite incredibly silly, and in parts (it seems to me) pretty humorous.' (The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Vol. III, 1887-1891, p 22.) See note for 5 December 1956, above.

the husky, dusky Mrs S

Osbourne's mother married Stevenson.

throwing plates

But according to Frieda Lawrence:

The story of the mayor of Milan who came to breakfast in Taormina, with Lawrence throwing plates at me, made me weep tears of laughter. I had never heard it before! And we were poor and did not have so many plates! (New Statesman, 13 August 1955.)

his first best-seller

Probably Of Mice and Men (1937).

in need of an ounce of civet

King Lear 4:6: 'Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination.'

'All right to end a sentence with a preposition, but not a paragraph. That should end with the blow of an axe.'

'I think it permissible to end a sentence with an insignificant word. Not a paragraph, however. That should end with the blow of an axe.' (Holmes to Laski, p 728)

black as the night from pole to pole

W E Henley, 'Invictus':

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole.


19 May 1957

Vailima Letters

A collection of letters written by Robert Louis Stevenson while living at Vailima, Samoa.

Church Hall, Westminster

A slip of the pen: the (Hermon Ould Memorial) lecture was at Church House, Westminster.


International Music Association

the rebuilt Inner Temple

The four Inns of Court (Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple) are the professional associations of English barristers. The Inner Temple was severely bombed in WW2.


Oxford bookseller. (Now has branches outside Oxford.)


21 May 1957

Who was that too exuberant financier?

Chesterton, Robert Browning (1903), p 61

'do not make me sick discussing their duty to God'...

Whitman 'Song of Myself', 32

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God.


26 May 1957

rebuilt in the 1930s

In fact, the 1920s, and Father Time was not a relic of the old building: see note for 12 May, above.

On nait demi-dieu et l'on meurt épicier

One is born as a demigod and dies as a grocer.

Grab me a Gondola

Musical comedy by Julian More and James Gilbert, starring Joan Heal and Denis Quilley. It ran from November 1956 to July 1958.

Miss Somebody

Deirdre White.


29 May 1957

…the Emperor Nero…

The Twelve Caesars, by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.

qui habuit ventrem rotundum

Who had a fat belly.

'veiled in the decent obscurity of a learned language'

Gibbon: Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian. Part I:

After exhausting the arts of sensual pleasure, she most ungratefully murmured against the parsimony of Nature; but her murmurs, her pleasures, and her arts, must be veiled in the obscurity of a learned language.

Edith J. Morley of the Reading High School

A rare catty remark from GWL: Edith Morley was Professor at the University of Reading.

Mottram's book…

Ada & John Galsworthy—For Some We Loved by R H Mottram (1956).

'Who drives fat oxen must himself be fat'

Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1784 section:

Johnson was present when a tragedy was read, in which there occurred this line: 'Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free.' The company having admired it much, 'I cannot agree with you (said Johnson:) It might as well be said, "Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat".'


2 June 1957

Domesday Book

The record of the Great Inquisition or Survey of the lands of England made by order of William the Conqueror in 1086.

my mother in law

Lady Spears—see Borden, Mary in biographies

a dash of the tarbrush

Old-fashioned and not conspicuously polite phrase indicating mixed black and white racial descent.

a Lucullan dinner-party

Lucullus, ancient Roman consul, noted for his elaborate banquets.


7 June 1957

Ulysses…Finnegans Wake

Books by James Joyce. The latter, in particular, ignoring many of the basic narrative conventions, is widely regarded as difficult to read.

one of those queer states which make such laws as that forbidding anyone 'to fire a pistol at a picnic except in self-defence', or, in another state, 'to eat scorpions or lizards in public.'

According to William Seagle in There Ought to be a Law: A Collection of Lunatic Legislation (1933), a law in the American state of Georgia lays down, 'If any person shall fire a pistol, gun or other firearm on any excursion train, or at any picnic, except in self-defence, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.' I can find no published legal prohibition of eating scorpions or lizards.

'noble and nude and antique'

Swinburne, 'Dolores'

We shift and bedeck and bedrape us,
Thou art noble and nude and antique.

'All occasions invite his mercies and all times are his seasons'

Donne: Sermon for Christmas Day, evening, 1640

…now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.

Who wrote that invocation…

John Matthews (1755-1826).

lame as a tree

Richard Surflet, Estienne and Liébault's Maison rustique, or the countrie farme tr. 1600: 'Trees become lame when they be planted in too drie a place.'

her new novel

Probably The Sandcastle, published in May 1957.

pathetic and foolish young lady

Ida Orchard, whose fiancé, Stuart McMorran, drowned in the Serpentine on 1 June.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Annals in Old English narrating the history of the Anglo-Saxons, created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great.

ad rem

To the point.


11 June 1957

The Prisoner of Zenda ... Rupert of Hentzau.

Adventure stories by Anthony Hope.

Ostler Joe

Recitation which begins:

I stood at eve, as the sun went down, by a grave where a woman lies,
Who lured men's souls to the shores of sin with the light of her wanton eyes.

The rigours of the 4th of June

George III's birthday, celebrated at Eton on the Wednesday closest to 4 June with speeches, cricket and a colourful boat procession.


13 June 1957

Alanbrooke's book

The Turn of the Tide by Arthur Bryant, 'Based on the war diaries of Field Marshal Alanbrooke' published in February 1957.

Mr Big is crunched by a shark

In Live and Let Die (1954).

Toutes choses sont dites déjà…

Everything has already been said, but as no-one listens it is always necessary to start again.


18 June 1957

une affaire d'un déjeuner

Freely translated as 'it will be over by lunch' or even 'it will be a picnic'.

my brother

Richard Lyttelton.

feathered, silken thunder

Haydon (19 July, 1821) recording the banquet in Westminster Hall following the coronation of George IV:

So with a king's advance. A whisper of mystery turns all eyes to the throne. Suddenly two or three rise; others fall back; some talk, direct, hurry, stand still, or disappear. Then three or four of high rank appear from behind the throne; an interval is left; the crowds scarce breathe. Something rustles, and a being buried in satin, feathers and diamonds rolls gracefully to his seat. The room rises with a sort of feathered, silken thunder.

the royal pair

Only half the royal pair was present; George IV prevented Queen Caroline from attending.

the end of Rudolf [Rassendyll]

Rupert of Henzau, Ch 21:

'God has decided,' he said. 'I've tried to do the right thing through it all. Sapt, and Bernenstein, and you, old Fritz, shake my hand. No, don't kiss it. We've done with pretence now.'
    We shook his hand as he bade us. Then he took the queen's hand. Again she knew his mind, and moved it to his lips. 'In life and in death, my sweet queen,' he murmured. And thus he fell asleep.

The shrine of Priapus

In Greek mythology, Priapus (Πρίαπος) was a minor god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia.


E L Churchill.


23 June 1957

Nelson's sevenpenny series

Low priced soft-bound reprints, published by Thomas Nelson and Sons at the turn of the 20th century. A hardback novel at that time might cost ten times as much.


27 June 1957

'a match at cricket'

Term for a cricket match once in common use; used by Swift, Horace Walpole et al. (Swift, The History of John Bull, Ch 18, 'How Lewis Baboon came to visit John Bull, and what passed between them'. Austin Dobson, Horace Walpole, A Memoir.)

à la bonne femme

Potage bonne femme: a vegetable soup. Leeks are a prominent ingredient and may conceivably account for the 'strings' to which GWL objected.


5 July 1957

spurlos versunken

Sunk without trace.

'Sun, how I hate thy beams'

Paradise Lost, Book 4:

But with no friendly voice, and add thy name
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell.

The Knight of the Burning Pestle

Play by Francis Beaumont, first performed in 1607, a send-up of chivalric romances.

Harold Nicolson's Sainte-Beuve

1957 biography.


7 July 1957

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle.


11 July 1957

'the way of a man with a maid'

Title of a Victorian pornographic novel by an anonymous author.

that book of Herbert Agar's

The Unquiet Years, an analysis of US policy, 1945-55.

Aurora Leigh

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1864)


13 July 1957

Lord's, which must have been pretty miserable

The Eton and Harrow match was affected by heavy rain 'with people splashing their way home through great yawning puddles' (The Times, 13 June 1957).

Mainly on the Air

Revised edition published by Heinemann in December 1957, including nine new pieces.

a collected volume of his essays

Dr Johnson and Others, published in May 1958 by the Cambridge University Press.


18 July 1957

Peter's health sounds a little sinister

The Times of 5 July carried a piece, one of Fleming's series of reports, in which he described his experiences at a hospital in Smolensk when he had a severe gastric ailment.

mellifluous quodlibetarian

Beerbohm, Lytton Strachey Ch 22: 'That agile and mellifluous quodlibetarian, Dr Joad.' A quodlibet is a question in philosophy proposed as an exercise in argument or disputation.

like that meat Johnson and Boswell had on the way to the Hebrides

Boswell's Life of Johnson, 3 June 1784:

At the inn where we stopped he was exceedingly dissatisfied with some roast mutton we had for dinner. ... He scolded the waiter, saying, 'It is as bad as bad can be: it is ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-drest.'

old Gaunt's 'this dear dear land'…'pelting farm'

Richard II, 2:1

This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm.

Farnese Hercules

A massive and muscular marble statue.


21 July 1957

The Master of Pembroke (Oxon)

R B McCallum.


Junior Common Room.

He who lives more lives than one…

from 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol'


23 July 1957


Historical novel by George Eliot set in fifteenth century Florence.

Serjeant Buzfuz

In The Pickwick Papers, Buzfuz, acting for Mrs Bardell in her breach of promise case describes Mr Pickwick as 'a being, erect upon two legs, and bearing all the outward semblance of a man, and not of a monster.'

The Inquisitor's speech

Shaw, St Joan.

Chaunticleer…Nonnes Priest

Chaucer, Canterbury Tales.

oakum picking

Picking oakum, a tedious and painful manual labour, was separating threads of disused ropes. The threads were sold for making string or stuffing mattresses.

The Devil's Disciple

Play by Bernard Shaw.

The Riddle of the Sands

1903 novel by Eskine Childers. Sometimes described as the first spy novel.


27 July 1957


A P Herbert.

Ora pro nobis

Pray for us.


1 August 1957

Mima, Mowcher, Fish and Linky

  • Lady Beatrice Edith Mildred Gascoyne-Cecil (1891-1980) m. 4th Baron Harlech.
  • Lady Mary Alice Gascoyne-Cecil (1895-1988) m. 10th Duke of Devonshire. ('Moucher', not 'Mowcher'; the latter is a character in David Copperfield)
  • Rt Rev Lord Rupert Ernest William Gascoyne-Cecil (1863-1936), Bishop of Exeter, 1916-36
  • Lord Hugh Richard Heathcote Gascoyne-Cecil (1869-1956), Baron Quickswood.

the great Coke

Probably the jurist Edward Coke.

Do you know that sermon?

Donne: Sermon for Christmas Day, evening, 1640.


4 August 1957

…this date…

Anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

furor notandi

A play on furor scribendi, a frenzy of writing.

The Green Carnation

1894 novel by Robert Hichens (originally published anonymously) satirising Wilde and Douglas as 'Esmé Amarinth' and 'Lord Reggie Hastings'.


7 August 1957

The National Review

Current affairs magazine published between 1883 and 1960.

is it in that organ…

Lord Altrincham (known professionally as John Grigg) edited The National Review from 1954-60. In 1957 he published an article critical of the failure of the monarchy to adapt to modern mores.

James Forsyte

A recurring cry of James Forsyte in The Man of Property and Indian Summer of a Forsyte.

the Express

The Daily Express. Populist right wing newspaper owned by Lord Beaverbrook.

the string of Ulysses's bow

Odyssey, 21:410.

'Oui; on m'appelle le grand'

'Yes, I am known as great'

I must wander down the Charing Cross Road

Central London street known for its second-hand book shops.

Aldington's biographical sketch

Richard Aldington, D H Lawrence: Portrait of a Genius, But ... (1950).

Sic transit!

Sic transit gloria mundi—worldly glory passes like that.

the last headmaster but five

Charles Goodford, Head Master of Eton 1853-1862; the last but six rather than five when GWL wrote this.


11 August 1957

the silly season

Traditionally in August, the summer holiday month, politics and other serious pursuits came to a temporary halt.

the barrows…

Until the 1970s Farringdon Road, on the northern fringe of the City of London, was lined from Cowcross Street to the Clerkenwell Road with barrows of old books.

'that unhoped serene that men call age'

Rupert Brooke, 'The Soldier'.


18 August 1957

The Yellow Book

Illustrated quarterly magazine published from 1894 to 1897, associated with Aestheticism. Wilde was not one of its authors, but it was linked to him in the public mind because Beardsley, its art editor, had published celebrated illustrations for Salome.


26 August 1957

my request for a ticket to Nice

Possibly because the Italian for Nice is Nizza.


1 September 1957

He is severe on Watson

George Watson's A E Housman: A Divided Life was published by RH-D in May 1957.

some silly—e.g. John Wain, who says A.E.H. failed in Greats on purpose

Tom Stoppard has expressed a similar view: 'On no evidence, my guess is that his temperament was such that, on realising at some point he was not going to get his "certain" First, he contrived a total humiliation.' (The Guardian, 3 June 2006)

a B.F.

A bloody fool.

Look Back in Anger

John Osborne's first staged play, produced in London in May 1956.


2 September 1957

in this lotus-land it is indeed always afternoon

Tennyson, 'The Lotos Eaters':

In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.


Bernhard Tauchnitz's Library of British and American Authors, a series of inexpensive, paperbound editions familiar to anglophone travellers on the continent.

Les Trois Dumas

An English translation by Gerard Hopkins was published in 1957 as The Three Musketeers: A Study of the Dumas Family.


8 September 1957

David Cecil

Cecil's biography of Beerbohm was published in 1964.

his and my pupil

Cecil was Professor of English Literature at Oxford 1948-1970; his pupils included John Bayley.

The Romantic Survival

The Romantic Survival—A Study in Poetic Evolution (1957). Bayley discussed changes in Romantic theory and practice from Wordsworth and Coleridge onwards, with detailed studies of the revival of Romanticism in the works of Yeats, Auden and Dylan Thomas. The passage quoted by GWL (p 86 in the second edition, 1964) relates to W B Yeats, contrasting his approach to writing poetry with that of Wilfred Owen:

How could poetry reside in some large general emotion outside the author's scope and control? How could the poetry be anywhere outside the poet? It is an inflexible application of the romantic egotism that the poet's universe must be purely his own. War must be a factor in the poet's consciousness, not a public emotion.

see through all things with your half-shut eyes

The Rape of the Lock. Canto iii. Line 117:
Coffee, which makes the politician wise,
And see through all things with his half-shut eyes.

Pamela's uncle

Pamela Lyttelton's mother was George Wyndham's elder sister.

'strong upon the Regulations Act'

Wilde: 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol', lines 157/8.


13 September 1957

Jonas Hanway

Hanway was reputedly the first man to carry an umbrella in London. He played no part in the invention of the water closet.

Olivias and Violas

In Twelfth Night.



The Pilgrim's Progress

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come, Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream, by John Bunyan. A Christian allegory of more than 50,000 words, published in 1678.

Columbia University placed it top of the list of 'the most boring classics'

The Columbia University Press's list of the ten most boring classics in the world, published in 1950, consisted of The Pilgrim's Progress, Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, The Faerie Queen, Boswell's Life of Johnson, Pamela, Silas Marner, Ivanhoe, Don Quixote and Goethe's Faust. (The Times, 4 July 1950, p 3)

Wasn't Dulles an alumnus?

Dulles was educated, if at all, at Princeton University and the George Washington University Law School.


15 September 1957

I think that in some way Alfred Douglas was a cousin of George Wyndham, and must therefore have been related to Pamela

Pamela Lyttelton and Lord Alfred Douglas were second cousins: her maternal grandfather, Percy Scawen Wyndham (1835-1911), was a brother of Fanny Charlotte Wyndham (1820-1893), who was Lord Alfred Douglas's maternal grandmother.


20 September 1957

'with the rear and the slaves'

Browning, 'The Lost Leader'

He alone breaks from the van and the free-men,
He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!

'sealed of the tribe'

Either Revelation Ch 7 passim ('Of the tribe of Judah, 12000 were sealed; Of the tribe of Reuben, 12000' etc) or Ben Jonson (An Epistle, Answering to One That Asked to Be Sealed of the Tribe of Ben).

rings out loud and bold like that of faithful Chapman

'Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold.' (Keats, 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer')

Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen novel published posthumously in 1817.


22 September 1957

autumn has brought more mists than mellow fruitfulness

Reference to Keats's 'Ode to Autumn' whose first line is, 'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.'

Did not Sir John Harington invent the W.C.?

Harington's 1596 book, A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax, gave details of a flushing lavatory he had installed at his house in Somerset. Flushing lavatories were used in Roman times and earlier, but Harington's was the first in post-Roman Britain.

Whitefriars Club

Dining club, founded in 1868, originally for journalists but latterly admitting 'lawyers, politicians, and publishers, as well as people in the theatre, films and the armed services'

his next book appears tomorrow

Religion and the Rebel, of which The Times commented that it was sad to watch a promising talent dwindle with confidence into fatuity (The Times, 24 October 1957).



The Royal Succession

In the original, La Loi des mâles. The English version, translated by Humphrey Hare, was published in March 1958.


26 September 1957

I am glad to see the reviews…

The Times, on the day GWL wrote, commented:

Mr Hart-Davis is a discreet but at the same time a most conscientious editor. One gets glimpses of the remarkable pains he has taken to date this letter or that, to examine texts and to trace references…It is moreover interestingly illustrated and handsomely produced.


29 September 1957

succès d'estime

A critical rather than a popular or commercial success.

Marius the Epicurean

Philosophical novel by Walter Pater, published in 1885.

the editorship of Punch

Punch was a humorous magazine founded in 1841. Malcolm Muggeridge, who stood down as editor in 1957, was succeeded by Bernard Hollowood, who edited the magazine from 1958-68. Punch ceased publication in 1992, was revived in 1996, and finally closed in 2002.

the bursting buds of promise

Gerald Massey, 'A Call to the People'

But our meek sufferance endeth now
Within the souls of men
The bursting buds of promise blow,
And Freedom lives again!


3 October 1957

'though much is taken much abides'

From Tennyson's early poem 'Ulysses', written in 1833.

Le déluge n'a pas réussi: il en est resté un homme

Henry Becque: The Flood was not a success: there was still a man left alive.

the time of party conferences

The three main political parties of Britain hold week-long conferences of their members in successive weeks of October.

'Irks care the cropful bird'

'Rabbi Ben Ezra':

Irks care the crop-full bird?
Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast?

Is there still a plump head waiter at the Cock?

Tennyson, 'Made at the Cock':

O plump head-waiter at The Cock,
To which I most resort,
How goes the time? 'Tis five o'clock.
Go fetch a pint of port.

And did you have lark pie or am I confusing it with the Cheshire Cheese?

Both the Cock Tavern and the Cheshire Cheese had reputations in earlier centuries for their lark pies, the latter's, also known as lark puddings, being particularly celebrated in Dr Johnson's day. (Nathaniel Newnham Davis, 'Clubs and Taverns', The Times, 8 June 1914, p 14)

'the simple bird that thinks two notes a song'

W H Davies, 'April's Charms'

And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long—
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song.


6 October 1957

fond, impious thought

Perhaps an echo of Gray's 'The Bard: A Pindaric Ode':

Fond impious Man, think'st thou, yon sanguine cloud,
Rais'd by thy breath, has quench'd the Orb of day?

But more probably from Chesterton's poem 'The Revolutionist, or Lines to a Statesman' (Collected Poems, p 155):

If I were wise and good and rich and strong—
Fond, impious thought, if I were Walter Long


13 October 1957

The Travellers'

The Travellers' Club in Pall Mall.


16 October 1957

Preliminary Essays

Wain's essays were: 'Restoration comedy and its modern critics'; 'Ovid in English'; 'The liberation of Wordsworth'; '"A stranger and afraid": notes on four Victorian poets'; 'The quality of Arnold Bennett'; 'Three contemporary poets'; 'The reputation of Ezra Pound'; 'Ambiguous gifts: notes on the poetry of William Empson'; 'Dylan Thomas: a review'; and 'The literary critic in the university'.

a bottom of good sense

Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1781 section:

'And she did not disgrace him; the woman had a bottom of good sense.' The word 'bottom' thus introduced, was so ludicrous when contrasted with his gravity, that most of us could not forbear tittering and laughing; though I recollect that the Bishop of Killaloe kept his countenance with perfect steadiness, while Miss Hannah More slyly hid her face behind a lady's back who sat on the same settee with her.

V. Woolf's inability to see anything good in H.J's writing, or so she said to Lytton S

Elsewhere, however, Woolf wrote, 'Henry James, what ever else he may have been, was a great writer—a great artist. A priest of the art of writing in his lifetime, he is now among the saints to whom every writer, particularly every novelist, must do homage.' (The Essays of Virginia Woolf: 1912-1918, p 348)

J. Wain is refreshing about L.S's impertinence in deriding Clough

John Wain, Preliminary Essays, 1957, p 93:

The smaller man making fun of the larger is a spectacle that people are bound to tire of; particularly as Strachey couldn't really find anything funny to say about Clough except that as a boy at Rugby he had weak ankles, so that every time he makes an appearance in the essay on Florence Nightingale, he has to be balanced on his weak ankles to remind us that he was a Victorian and therefore must have been silly. In fact, of course, Clough's sense of irony was finer than Strachey's.

Sulla in Plutarch

In Dryden's translation:

…his blue eyes, of themselves extremely keen and glaring, were rendered all the more forbidding and terrible by the complexion of his face, in which white was mixed with rough blotches of fiery red. Hence, it is said, he was surnamed Sylla, and in allusion to it one of the scurrilous jesters at Athens made the verse upon him: 'Sylla is a mulberry sprinkled o'er with meal.'

'The Celestial Omnibus'

By E M Forster, in which a young boy is given a return ticket on the bus for Paradise.


23 October 1957

'squalor and sordidness turned into poetry'

Bennett's verdict, recorded in his Journal for 1910.

Ipswich is all bye-electing

Richard Stokes, MP for Ipswich, mentioned in GWL's letter of 13 June 1957, had died as a result of a motoring accident.

toto animo

With all (my) soul.

'Wasn't it them Greeks as used to be so clever?'

H G Wells, Joan and Peter, 1918, Ch 8:

'Are them the same Greeks that used to be so clever?' asked Mrs. Pybus. 'Used to be,' said the young man with a kind of dark scorn.


27 October 1957

Newman Flower … "was so appalled ... that he published only brief extracts, and those the safest"

Not as safe as Flower supposed. In 1935 he, the publishers and the printers were successfully sued for libel in two separate cases for remarks left unedited in Volume III of the journals. For details see here.


31 October 1957

O Elton…C. E. Montague

C E Montague: A Memoir, published in 1929.

what Old Heythorpe had for his Last Supper

See GWL's letter of 5 December 1956.

The Entertainer

Play by John Osborne. First produced in April 1957 with Laurence Olivier, Brenda de Banzie, George Relph and Dorothy Tutin in the main roles. The play has been frequently revived; among the actors playing the lead role, Archie Rice, on stage or screen have been Max Wall, Jack Lemmon, Peter Bowles, Michael Gambon, Corin Redgrave and Robert Lindsay.

Saintsbury's who saw the good in Paul de Kock as well as in Milton

In A History of the French Novel‚ Vol. 2—To the Close of the 19th Century, Ch 11, 'Paul de Kock, Other Minors of 1800-1830, and Nodier', Saintsbury devoted more than 8,000 words to de Kock. T S Eliot commented, 'Who but Saintsbury, in writing a book on the French novel, would give far more pages to Paul de Kock than to Flaubert?' (Eliot, 'To Criticize the Critic', 1961.)

Childe H…Donny Jonny

Byron's poems, 'Childe Harold' and 'Don Juan'. The latter is less strenuously romantic than the former.

'He was slow, he was courteous, he was wrong.' (Quoted by J. Agate)…

Agate was quoting a nineteenth century mot printed in Verse, Prose and Epitaphs from the Commonplace Book of Lewin Hill, C.B. (1908). He used it and added his contrasting character sketch of himself in Ego 5 (1942), p 145.

Poor old Dunsany

Lord Dunsany died suddenly on 25 October.


3 November 1957

'The Young Man with the Carnation', or words to that effect

The title of the story is as given by RH-D. It is about an author of a successful first book who struggles to find a theme for a second novel that will not be superficial.


7 November 1957

'the august, inhospitable, inhuman stars, glittering magnificently unperturbed'

William Watson, 'Melancholia'

she is to me what the Holy Ghost was to the Corinthians

1 Corinthians 3:16: 'Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?'

Carlyle describing him as the greatest ass in Europe…

As a child Monckton Milnes, introduced to Carlyle, said, 'This is a great day in my life. I have seen two philosophers—yourself, sir, and Mr Herbert Spencer, whom Papa pointed out to me in a 'bus.' Carlyle replied with sudden animation, 'Eh, laddie, and have ye seen Herbert Spencer? Then ye've seen the most unending ass in Christendom.' George W E Russell, Afterthoughts (1912), p 144.

his father was one of the best of my Eton friends

Valentine Fleming (1882-1917) was killed in the First World War.


9 November 1957

each poem or other work is inextricably bound up with the mood and circumstances of its creation

RH-D's thoughts seem to run on similar lines to those of John Bayley (see letter of 7 September 1957, above).


14 November 1957

'Meet we no angels, Pansie?'

By Thomas Ashe, 1836-1889.

the miracle in the valley of Hinnom

Probably referring to the incidents described in Ezekiel 37:1-14: 'Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live…'


17 November 1957

The Archbishop of York

Michael Ramsey.


F J R Coleridge.


20 November 1957

its custom of a communal dining-table

There is still (2019) a communal dining table, but also smaller separate tables in the club's dining room.

Charlotte Brontë's horror on seeing Thackeray munching and enjoying potatoes

Thackeray recalled, '…as I took my fifth potato, she leaned across with clasped hands and tearful eyes, and breathed imploringly, 'Oh, Mr. Thackeray! Don't!' Lewis Benjamin, William Makepeace Thackeray (1968), p 310.

Mrs Jellyby…Turveydrop

In Bleak House.

Mrs Jarley and Dick Swiveller

In The Old Curiosity Shop.

Pecksniff and Mrs Gamp

In Martin Chuzzlewit.

The Wellers

In The Pickwick Papers.

Mrs Nickleby…Mr Squeers

In Nicholas Nickleby.


In The Old Curiosity Shop.

the idea of Mr P. was really Seymour's

Dickens was originally engaged to supply 'sketches' to accompany a series of comic drawings by Robert Seymour.

La Rochefoucauld: 'Why have we memory…'

Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales, 313:

Pourquoi faut-il que nous ayons assez de mémoire pour retenir jusqu'aux moindres particularités de ce qui nous est arrivé, et que nous n'en ayons pas assez pour nous souvenir combien de fois nous les avons contées à une même personne?


24 November 1957

Quality Street

1913 play by James Barrie.

and is v. near Charing X

The Royal Empire Society (now the Commonwealth Club) is in Northumberland Avenue, adjacent to Charing Cross.

but I believe there are those who don't like that courteously twinkling eye

P G Wodehouse was among them: 'But Max. What a louse. Simon and Schuster gave me his fat volume of dramatic criticisms, and that supercilious attitude of his made me feel sick. And do you realise that but for Max there would have been none of this New Yorker superciliousness. They all copy him.' (Frances Donaldson, P G Wodehouse, 1982, p 318). On the other hand, Wodehouse shared GWL's view of George Orwell: 'Why do the eggheads make such a fuss of him? He's quite good, of course, but surely not as good as all that.' (Frances Donaldson, Yours, Plum—The Letters of P. G. Wodehouse, 1990, p 202.

that idiotic fancy for having no capital letters

In early editions of The Brook Kerith, Moore eschewed capital letters in the hope of producing an appropriately scriptural effect. In later editions he relented and allowed conventional upper and lower case type.

my copy was burnt in the Hagley fire

On Christmas Eve 1925 fire swept through the house destroying much of the library and many of the pictures.


29 November 1957

anfractuosities of the human mind

Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1780 section:

Among the anfractuosities of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture.
('Anfractuosities' means 'intricacies' or 'convolutions')


Sutherland's striking 1949 portrait of Maugham, now (2019) in the Tate Gallery can be seen here.


1 December 1957

St Andrew's Day

Notable date on the Eton calendar, when is played an annual match of the school's form of football known as the Wall Game.

Tony Powell's latest

At Lady Molly's.


4 December 1957

'…what made your head ache…'

'Nay, Sir,' said Johnson, 'it was not the wine that made your head ache, but the sense that I put into it.' Boswell: 'Will sense make the head ache?' Johnson: 'Yes, Sir, when it is not used to it.'

the new Agatha

Agatha Christie's 4.50 from Paddington.

think upon her latter end

Deuteronomy 32:29:

O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!


8 December 1957

Tempest at Drury Lane

Directed by Peter Brook. Caliban was played by Alec Clunes. Laurence Olivier shared RH-D's view of the play, saying of Prospero, '…so sonorous, you know. Not a bloody laugh in sight.' (The New Statesman, Volume 113, p 25).


12 December 1957

Reith Lectures

Annual series of lectures broadcast by the BBC.

Durrell…Cyprus book

Bitter Lemons (1957).


19 December 1957

darkness will cover the earth, and gross darkness the people

Isaiah 60:2


29 December 1957

Robbery Under Arms

1957 film, directed by Jack Lee, of Rolf Boldrewood's 1888 novel about life and adventure in the bush and goldfields of Australia.


31 December 1957

the sport of every wind

Samuel Madden, 'Boulter's Monument' (1745):

Trod under foot, the sport of every wind,
Swept from the earth and blotted from his mind.

the name of Captain Starlight's horse


'that stellar and undiminishable something'

In Emerson's Essays II (1844) 'Character'.

Notes to Volume 3: 1958


4 January 1958

Mr Pooter

Charles Pooter, central figure of The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith, is an accident-prone, lovably ridiculous figure.

Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell.                                    

At the Drop of A Hat

Written and performed by Michael Flanders (author) and Donald Swann (composer).

… dilly dilly

cf. 'Lavender Blue', an English folk song of the 17th century, which begins:

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,
When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen.

whether ill or well I know not

The Review of English Studies (April 1940) said of Milton: Complete Poetry and Selected Prose (1938), 'Mr Visiak and the Nonesuch Press have given us a Milton in one volume which … really should be the popular Milton for the next generation or so.'

Diana Cooper's book

The Rainbow Comes and Goes, published by RH-D in May 1958.

Comfort's stepmother

Margaret Turner.

no dogs, menservants or crests on our carriages

Licence fees imposed in the 1880s by Gladstone's government on carriages, menservants, dogs, horses and coats of arms were still in force in 1958.

New Statesman

Weekly, left-leaning current affairs magazine founded in 1913 by Sidney and Beatrice Webb with the support of Bernard Shaw and other members of the Fabian Society.


8 January 1958

Malcolm Sargent … 'Flash Harry'

The original 'Flash Harry' was Henry Field, a well-known Victorian thief. (See The Times 14 October 1865, p 11). The nickname had been attached to Sargent since his army service in the First World War.

Ah, Monsieur vous étudiez trop

Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1780 section:

His unjust contempt for foreigners was, indeed, extreme. One evening, at old Slaughter's coffee-house, when a number of them were talking loud about little matters, he said, 'Does not this confirm old Meynell's observation—For any thing I see, foreigners are fools'. He said, that once, when he had a violent tooth-ache, a Frenchman accosted him thus:—'Ah, Monsieur vous étudiez trop'.

Porson … hiccup Greek

Byron wrote in 1818:

Of all the disgusting brutes, sulky, abusive and intolerable, Porson was the most bestial … He used to recite or rather vomit pages of all languages, and could hiccup Greek like a Helot: and certainly Sparta never shocked her children with a grosser exhibition than this man's intoxication.

It was said to be a Spartan practice to get helots (serfs) drunk to show upper-class Spartan youth what an exhibition drunkards made of themselves.


cf. Galsworthy's 'A Stoic' (Five Tales): 'Cook's done a little spinach in cream with the Soubees.' Mutton or lamb cutlet soubise was a popular Victorian recipe; soubise is a creamed onion sauce.


Variant of ramekin. In 'A Stoic' cheese remmykin (a form of soufflé) is served as a savoury at the end of dinner.



The Library

The London Library, of which RH-D was chairman and leading fund-raiser.

The Lit Soc

The Literary Society, a London dining club, founded by William Wordsworth and others in 1807. Its members are generally either prominent figures in English literature or eminent people in other fields with a strong interest in literature. It meets monthly at the Garrick Club.


23 January 1958

Shakespearean hunch … whoreson

Shakespeare did not coin the word 'whoreson' (which dates from the fourteenth century or earlier) but he used it more than forty times in his plays—in Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, Cymbeline, Hamlet, Henry IV Parts I and II, Henry VIII, King Lear, Love's Labours Lost, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Troilus and Cressida, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Clough's Bothie

Homeric pastoral by Arthur Hugh Clough, The Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich, later renamed Tober-na-Vuolich (1848).


Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1780 section, of Topham Beauclerk:

No man ever was so free when he was going to say a good thing, from a look that expressed that it was coming; or, when he had said it, from a look that expressed that it had come.

as Graves has Palmer

Robert Graves's 1957 novel They Hanged My Saintly Billy is a reconsideration of the Palmer case. Reviewing it in the Times Literary Supplement, Julian Symons wrote, 'Mr Graves has written a lively, amusing, perverse book, which may well convince us that Palmer had a far from perfect trial; but nothing in it is likely to move the Doctor from his place of eminence among the group of famous murderers in the Chamber of Horrors.' (TLS, 31 May 1957, p 336.)


Gabriel Utterson, Jekyll's lawyer in Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

A Duet

A Duet with an Occasional Chorus. 1899 novel on the theme of marriage.

An affection à la Plato …

Patience, Act 1. (Correctly, 'An attachment à la Plato … ')

Tea with Walter de la Mare

Published in 1957. An account of social encounters between the author and the poet.

Mr Wilkinson

Authorities remain divided on whether Tennyson or FitzGerald invented the mock-Wordsworthian line.

'Golden lads … '

From Cymbeline 4:2:

Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

George Hurst

GWL's play on Hurst's name refers to George Hirst, (1871–1954), the only man in first-class cricket to achieve the 'double double' of 2000 runs and 200 wickets in a season (1906).

The Unfinished

Two movement symphony by Schubert (No 8).


26 January 1958


Punch was a humorous magazine founded in 1841; it ceased publication in 1992, was revived in 1996 and finally closed in 2002.

the Telegraph

Daily newspaper, established 1855. Originally Liberal in outlook, in the twentieth century it became a byword for right-wing views.

Johnson Club

London club founded in 1884 for admirers and scholars of the works of Samuel Johnson. GWL delivered a paper to the club in 1953.

'The Story of Chloe'

Correctly, 'The Tale of Chloe.' Subtitled 'An Episode in the History of Beau Beamish.'

Alan Moorehead

Alan Moorehead's book The Russian Revolution was published in 1959; excerpts had previously been printed in The Sunday Times.

Sunday Times

Newspaper founded in 1822; not connected with The Times until 1966.


30 January 1958

Unlike Bolingbroke I find no difficulty in wallowing naked in December snow by thinking on fantastic summer's heat

Richard II, 1:3:

O, who can hold a fire in his hand
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite
By bare imagination of a feast?
Or wallow naked in December snow
By thinking on fantastic summer's heat?

disgracefully reviewed … in the T.L.S.

TLS reviews were unsigned in the 1950s. The archives show that the reviewer was the Hon C M Woodhouse, later 5th Baron Terrington. His hostility to Eton may be explained by the fact that he was a Wykehamist.

'The Tale of Chloe' …

The story includes both the Duchess and the Duke of Dewlap. The other story mentioned by GWL is 'The Case of General Ople and Lady Camper'.

'between the stirrup and the ground'

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1783 section):

There is, in Camden's Remains, an epitaph upon a very wicked man, who was killed by a fall from his horse, in which he is supposed to say,
Between the stirrup and the ground,
I mercy ask'd, I mercy found.

Johnson slightly misquoted the original, which reads:

Betwixt the stirrup and the ground,
Mercy I asked, mercy I found.


2 February 1958

until the swallow dares

The Winter's Tale, 4:4.

can spring be far behind?

Shelley, 'Ode to the West Wind'.

article on publishing …

The article made specific reference to 'the arrangement whereby Secker & Warburg Ltd and Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd have recently become members of what is called the Heinemann Group'.


England's oldest national newspaper, founded in 1785 as 'The Daily Universal Register', changed in 1788 to the present title. All other newspapers with 'Times' in their title, from The Times of India to The New York Times, derive their titles from the original.

the Duke of Argyll

Ian Douglas Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll.

trying to fish up a Spanish treasure-ship from the sands of Tobermory Bay

The San Juan de Silicia, one of the larger ships in the Spanish Armada, was sunk in Torbermory Bay on the isle of Mull in 1588. It was a troopship, and carried no bullion, but a popular myth grew to the contrary. (The Times, 31 October 2001, p 18)


Samuel Gurney Lubbock.

Faber's Jowett

Sir Geoffrey Faber's biography of Benjamin Jowett was published in 1957.


5 February 1958

'hailing far summer … '

Coventry Patmore: 'Winter' in The Unknown Eros: 

The buried bulb does know
The signals of the year,
And hails far Summer with his lifted spear.

It is perhaps surprising that RH-D could not track this quotation down: he was clearly fond of Patmore's works which appear three times in his collection A Beggar in Purple, based on his commonplace book.

The Faery Queen

Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen, which consists of six books, each comprising twelve cantos.

They that endure to the end shall be saved

Mark 13:13: 'but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved'


Not identified, unless an elliptical reference to the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres.

as Laski described him—like a great actor playing a part

The Holmes-Laski Letters, Volume 2, p 940: 'I add an attractive dinner I gave at the [LSE] to introduce Churchill to some of my younger colleagues. He was like a great actor playing a part. He did it supremely well, and, I think, enchanted them.'


13 February 1958

a man who can neither speak with effect, nor be silent with dignity

Quoted by A L Rowse in Friends and Contemporaries (1989), p 145, recording that Henson deplored Welldon's 'insatiable loquacity: he cannot keep silent with dignity nor speak with effect'. In the 1990s the phrase was taken up in America by The Washington Post and others to apply to President Bush Sr.

'I cannot think that the conscientious and devoted governess method … '

Hensley Henson, Retrospect of an Unimportant Life, Volume 3 (1950), p 220


16 February 1958

Ventis Secundis

'With favourable winds'—motto associated with Admiral Hood. A familiar Latin motto, in full Ventis secundis, tene [or pl. tenete] cursum—The winds being favourable, hold the course.

magnificently reviewed by Alan P.-J. himself, I feel sure

The TLS archives confirm this supposition. Price-Jones's review, titled 'Grace after meat' occupied the whole of p 86 in the issue of 14 February.

National Review

Right-wing American magazine founded by William F Buckley Jr in 1955.

St Margaret's

St Margaret's, Westminster, the parish church of the House of Commons


19 February 1958


School form in which pupils spend an additional year preparing for examinations

Lucky Jim

By Kingsley Amis, published in 1954.

'unprofitably travelling towards the grave'

Wordsworth 'The Prelude', Book 1, line 267.


Form of evangelical protestantism propounded by Franklin Nathaniel Daniel Buchman (1878–1961) which developed into the Moral Rearmament movement. Bishop Henson disapproved of its authoritarian ways and what he called Buchman's 'oracular despotism'.

'She'll be knocking herself up one of these days, gadding about like that'

Galsworthy, Salvation of a Forsyte, Ch 1: James Forsyte rose … 'Rachel goes every morning: she overdoes it—she'll be laid up one of these days.'


23 February 1958

'A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds … '

From Emerson's essay 'Self-Reliance' (1841)

The Potting Shed

Greene play depicting the interaction of a whiskey priest and a rationalist family, starring John Gielgud, Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies and Irene Worth.

Time and Tide

Literary and political magazine founded in 1920 by Lady Rhondda. Ceased publication in 1977.


26 February 1958

Country Life

Weekly magazine founded in 1897 featuring articles about country houses and other rural matters.

Goldsmith, who once alleged that, though he never had sixpence in his pocket, he could draw for £1000

Washington Irving: Oliver Goldsmith: A Biography, Ch 41:

'It was a pity,' he [Boswell] said, 'that Goldsmith would, on every occasion, endeavor to shine, by which he so often exposed himself.' Langton contrasted him with Addison, who, content with the fame of his writings, acknowledged himself unfit for conversation; and on being taxed by a lady with silence in company, replied, 'Madam, I have but ninepence in ready money, but I can draw for a thousand pounds.' To this Boswell rejoined that Goldsmith had a great deal of gold in his cabinet, but was always taking out his purse. 'Yes, sir,' chuckled Johnson, 'and that so often an empty purse.'

'an inferior mind and spirit'

'so inferior a mind and spirit as Browning's could not provide the impulse needed to bring back into poetry the adult intelligence.' (Leavis, New Bearings in English Poetry, 1932, p 20) Leavis's misunderstanding of Browning was contradicted by T S Eliot's view. Leavis believed that Browning was 'concerned merely with simple emotions and sentiments'; Eliot, per contra, considered that both Browning and Tennyson were 'intellectual poets', who 'think, but they do not feel their thought as immediately as the odour of a rose.' (Eliot, The Metaphysical Poets, 1921).

'the weak point about good resolutions … '

Emerson's original version is shorter:

Of what use to make good resolutions if the resolution is to be kept by the old law-breaker?

GWL is quoting (with complete accuracy) Hensley Henson's paraphrase of Emerson's original, printed in The Oxford Group Movement (1933), p 40.

'the burlesque Duke of Newcastle'

Memoirs of Horace Walpole (ed. Eliot Warburton, 1851) Vol II, p 472:

This grave scene was fully contrasted by the burlesque Duke of Newcastle. He fell into a fit of crying the moment he came into the chapel, and flung himself back in the stall, the Archbishop hovering over him with a smelling bottle: but in two minutes, his curiosity got the better of his hypocrisy, and he ran about the chapel with his glass to spy who was or was not there, spying with one hand, and mopping his eyes with the other.

John o' London's Weekly, Truth

John O'London's Weekly: leading literary magazine, published from 1919 to 1954. Among its regular contributors were Winston Churchill, Rebecca West, Arnold Bennett, Max Beerbohm, and Somerset Maugham.

Truth: political and literary magazine, founded by Henry Labouchere, published from 1877 until 1957. The magazine's title was a misnomer: Labouchere's disregard for the truth was notorious.


2 March 1958

Purple hearts

Drinamyl, containing dextroamphetamine and amylobarbitone. Like Benzedrine, a stimulant.


6 March 1958


GWL took over the house in 1925 following Hubert Brinton's retirement in 1924.


Field in Eton.

P.L's T.L.S. reviews

Lubbock made fifteen contributions to the TLS between 1904 and 1955, of which three were letters. He reviewed The Greatness of Josiah Porlick and The Poet's Diary (1904), Georgian Poetry, 1911–1912 (1913), The Horrors of Wittenberg (1916), Zeppeline über England (1917), Rapports des Delegues du Government Espagnol sur leurs visites dans les camps de prissionniers francais en Allemagne, 1914–1917 (1918) and Georgian Stories (1922). He contributed articles on W S Gilbert's libretti (1907), Literature and science (1909), Francis Bacon (1910), Maitland and the amateur (1920) and Keats (1921).

It has superb things in it

Sartor Resartus:

  • Ch 3: passage beginning 'That stifled hum of Midnight, when Traffic has lain down to rest … '
  • Ch 6. A hundred and a hundred savage peaks, in the last light of Day; all glowing, of gold and amethyst, like giant spirits of the wilderness.
  • Ch 7: Had these men any quarrel? Busy as the Devil is, not the smallest!
  • Ch 9: You see two individuals … one dressed in fine Red, the other in coarse threadbare Blue: Red says to Blue, 'Be hanged and anatomised'; Blue hears with a shudder, and (O wonder of wonders!) marches sorrowfully to the gallows; is there noosed-up, vibrates his hour, and the surgeons dissect him, and fit his bones into a skeleton for medical purposes.


10 March 1958

we exhorted ice and snow to praise the Lord

From the order of service for Morning Prayer (Book of Common Prayer): Benedicite, omnia opera: 'O ye Ice and Snow, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him for ever.'


13 March 1958

going through the vale of misery, use it for a well

Psalm 84 (Quam dilecta) in the BCP version. The AV renders the line as 'passing through the valley of Baca make it a well.'

Who was the man … conversational suicide

'A rough man in a blue jersey' in The History of Mr Polly, chapter IX

the dreadful reason why

Robespierre was in agony, having shot himself in the face during his arrest in a bungled attempt at suicide.

more feminarum

In the manner of women.

chorus of indolent reviewers

Tennyson, Hendecasyllabics:

Oh, you chorus of indolent reviewers,
Irresponsible, indolent reviewers.


Eliot's novel of 1872, set in a small provincial town, telling inter alia of the matrimonial difficulties of Dorothea Brooke.


This word is not in the OED, and has appeared in The Times only once – in a review of the Lyttelton Hart-Davis Letters. Wigwam's article 'Scriptistics – An Introduction' appeared in The Twentieth Century, Vol CLXIII, January–June 1958. It seems that Virgil Wigwam, supposedly 'a Texan professor of creative writing and scourge of English poetic amateurism', was an invention of the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan (1920-2010).


15 March 1958

the Goddess Reason tottered on her throne

James Thomson (1700–1748). 'Liberty':

Thus human life, unhinged, to ruin reel'd,
And giddy Reason totter'd on her throne.

William Plomer's new book At Home

A second volume of autobiography, dealing with his return to England from Japan in 1929 and with his life from then to 1945.

Mr Britling

Mr Britling Sees It Through, 1919 novel.

'and still they come'

RH-D puts it in quotation marks, but the origin of this familiar phrase is uncertain. A possibility is Samuel Bamford's poem 'The Pass of Death' written to mark the death of George Canning in 1827:

And still they come—and still they go—
And still there is no end—
The hungry grave is yawning yet,
And who shall next descend?


20 March 1958

I wish R. Llewellyn would write a sequel to it, though I rather respect him for not doing so.

Llewellyn later published three sequels: Up into the Singing Mountain (1960); Down Where the Moon is Small (1966); Green, Green My Valley Now (1975).

any man who goes to bed before twelve is 'a scoundrel'

'Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o'clock is a scoundrel.' Works, vol. 9, Apophthegms, ed. John Hawkins, 1787–1789.

a grand bowler my father said his father was

Joseph Wells played for Kent in 1862 and 1863.

as G. Meredith regarded tailoring

Meredith's father and grandfather were naval outfitters; he was not proud of the connexion.

his 'cowshed'

The council's surveyor described the proposed building as looking like a cowshed; Humphrey Lyttelton agreed that it looked something like a farm building (The Times, 15 January 1958).

this merriment of parsons is mighty offensive

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1781 section):

Johnson, and his friend, Beauclerk, were once together in company with several clergymen, who thought that they should appear to advantage, by assuming the lax jollity of men of the world; which, as it may be observed in similar cases, they carried to noisy excess. Johnson, who they expected would be entertained, sat grave and silent for some time; at last, turning to Beauclerk, he said, by no means in a whisper, 'This merriment of parsons is mighty offensive.'


23 March 1958

Qu'est ce que vous pensez … ?

What do you think of Françoise Sagan? What do you think of the Angry Young Men.


Nowell-Smith and his wife lived at Hill House, Ewelme, Oxfordshire.

almost thou persuadest me

Acts 26:28: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.


27 March 1958

our stout eupeptic secretary

Fletcher Moss, Folk-Lore – Old Customs and Tales of My Neighbours, 'Voters': 'a stout, eupeptic party, with a red face and a big blue tie spotted with white'.

that is the peccant part

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1768 section): 

'There is no arguing with Johnson; for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it.' He turned to the gentleman, 'Well, Sir, go to Dominicetti, and get thyself fumigated; but be sure that the steam be directed to thy head, for that is the peccant part.'

my beloved half-aunt Mrs Alington

GWL's father, Charles George Lyttelton, 8th Viscount Cobham and 5th Baron Lyttelton (1842–1922), was one of twelve children of the 4th Baron Lyttelton (1817–1876) by his first wife, Mary, née Glynne (1813–1857). Hester Margaret Alington, née Lyttelton (1874–1958) was the youngest of three daughters of the 4th Baron by his second wife, Sybella Harriet née Clive (1836–1900), whom he married in 1869.

haste stormfully across the astonished earth

Sartor Resartus Ch 8:

Thus, like a God-created, fire-breathing Spirit-host, we emerge from the Inane; haste stormfully across the astonished Earth; then plunge again into the Inane.


30 March 1958

It is recorded that for eighteen years he started the day by reading a French novel … Schreyvogel … '

Stephen Potter, The Muse in Chains (1937), p 130. The second extract from the book quotes from Saintsbury's A History of Criticism and Literary Taste in Europe from the Earliest Texts to the Present Day, Volume 3 (1904), p 573


Greek comedy  (Λυσιστράτη,  'Army-disbander') written in 411 BC by Aristophanes, and set during the Peloponnesian War. The women of the play withhold their sexual favours until the men agree to end the fighting.

My Fair Lady

Successful 1956 musical show based on Shaw's Pygmalion.


2 April 1958

Barmecide feast

In the Arabian Nights the story is told of a prince (Barmecide) who serves a succession of empty dishes pretending that they contain a sumptuous repast.

H.G. Wells's byeblow

Anthony West.

'Tartufe' (sic)

'Tartuffe' is more usual, but the OED admits 'Tartufe' also.

It is true that old George Moore called her intellectuality 'studied brag'

It is not, in fact, true: the phrase was coined by Samuel Butler, who wrote to Miss Savage in March 1873 that Middlemarch was 'a long-winded piece of studied brag, clever enough, I dare say, but to me at any rate singularly unattractive.' Quoted in The Correspondence of Samuel Butler with his Sister May (1962), p 61.

But what made Ruskin write 'that disgusting Mill on the Floss'? He may have been just about to go off his head—or have just gone.

Ruskin's first mental collapse was in 1878; he suffered a further attack in 1881. He called The Mill on the Floss 'disgusting' in a letter of 1879, and in 1881 called it 'a vile story' and 'the most striking instance extant of [a] study of cutaneous disease.' (Cynthia Gamble, Proust as Interpreter of Ruskin: The Seven Lamps of Translation, 2002, p 70.)

Lord Elton's biographical sketch of Bishop King of Lincoln

Edward King and Our Times (1958).

Bishop Paget

In 1904 when GWL was twenty-two, there were two bishops with the surname Paget. Details of both are given in the biographies, as it is not clear which is referred to here.

Seared is of course my heart …

From C S Calverley's poem 'Beer'.

Here is what Meredith said in a letter of old Carlyle …

Letters of George Meredith (1912), pp 173-74 and 200.


6 April 1958

Old Possum

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats: collection of light verse on a feline theme.


On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History: Six Lectures (1841).

'Of such sacred books … '

From Sartor Resartus, Chapter X

The Savile Club … quarts of liquor

Sixty years later, the food is a very great deal finer than 'not bad'; quarts of liquor continue to be dispensed at the bar.

The new Ian Fleming

Dr No was the sixth in the James Bond series.


9 April 1958

snell, blae, nirly, and scowthering

Stevenson, Edinburgh Picturesque Notes (1878 ), Chapter IX:

The Scotch dialect is singularly rich in terms of reproach against the winter wind. SNELL, BLAE, NIRLY, and SCOWTHERING are four of these significant vocables: they are all words that carry a shiver with them.


  • Snell—'bitter, severe' (OED)
  • Blae—'bleak, sunless' (OED)
  • Nirly is not in the OED but seems akin to nirl (v)—'to shrivel, shrink; to pinch with the cold'
  • Scowthering—not in the OED; other sources suggest 'wet and windy'.

a formal suet-pudding … a rat

Frank Swinnerton, Background with Chorus: A Footnote to Changes in English Literary Fashion Between 1901 and 1917 (1956), p 122

'The race is over'

Cambridge won by three lengths and a half.

Joseph and Potiphar's wife

Genesis 39.

Miss Bobby Bennett's mother

In the Irish RM stories of E ΠSomerville and Martin Ross.


House near Eton built for E L Vaughan and his wife after his retirement.


13 April 1958

Stephen Potter

Potter's new book was Supermanship, successor to Gamesmanship ('the art of winning games without actually cheating') 1947, followed by Lifemanship ('the art of getting away with it'), 1950; and One-upmanship, 1952. Some critics agreed with RH-D about the quality of the fourth book. The New Yorker commented, 'his methods and the point of view behind them don't seem as funny or as sharp as they once did, possibly because they are no longer surprising, or possibly because he is getting a little tired of his own joke.' But Edmund Wilson wrote of, 'the brevity and compactness of the presentation' and went on, 'As in any practical manual, the principles are stated and concisely illustrated. Nothing goes on too long.'

Kate Croy … Fleda Vetch

Charlotte Stant, Maggie Verver—The Golden Bowl 
Kate Croy, Milly Theale, Merton Densher—The Wings of a Dove 
Lambert Strether—The Ambassadors
George Stransom—The Altar of the Dead
Fleda Vetch—The Spoils of Poynton.


17 April 1958

Helvellyn … Skiddaw

Fells in the northern Lake District. GWL's hypothetical shepherd would be hard pressed to communicate from one to the other: they are eight miles apart, with the town of Keswick between them.

He looked like a young soldier on a battlefield

The last line of Owen Wingrave, describing the dead hero's corpse.


23 April 1958

This is Your Life

A long-running television programme; each week a famous person was without prior warning invited to take part in a celebration of his or her life, with contributions from family, colleagues and friends. In the early years it was broadcast live; later it was recorded.

Gordon Ray's Thackeray volumes

The Letters and Private Papers of William Makepeace Thackeray (collected and edited by Gordon N Ray) were published in four volumes in 1945-6. See also note for 11 May 1958.

'claret and Ecclesiastes melancholy, and nervous insistence on his gentlemanliness'

Hugh Kingsmill, 'Literary Notes', The New English Review, Volume 11, 1945, p 657

Motoring … And what of ten years hence?

The total number of vehicles on British roads rose at an average rate of 3½ per cent a year from 1960 onwards. By the time of RH-D's death in 1999 the number had quadrupled. (Joyce Dargay et al, Vehicle Ownership and Income Growth, Worldwide: 1960–2030, 2007.)

Sergeant Troy used his sword

In Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd.

Life with the Lyons

Radio and later television comedy show of the 1950s, featuring the American comedian Ben Lyon, his wife, Bebe Daniels, and their family.


27 April 1958

Handel's blacksmith …

Longfellow's 'The Village Blacksmith' begins

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;

Handel's 'Harmonious Blacksmith' is a 19th century nickname for the Air and Variations in his E major harpsichord suite (Book I, no 5, published in 1720).


Pre-xerographic form of photocopy.


30 April 1958

Some People

Subtitled 'Character sketches, fictions, and memoirs', published in 1927.

a letter of George Orwell's …

Orwell's essay on W B Yeats, published in Horizon in January 1943. Orwell quotes Yeats's lines:

How many centuries spent
The sedentary soul
In toils of measurement
Beyond eagle or mole,
Beyond hearing or seeing,
Or Archimedes' guess,
To raise into being
That loveliness?

Orwell comments, 'Here he does not flinch from a squashy vulgar word like "loveliness" and after all it does not seriously spoil this wonderful passage.'

Brekekekex, co-ax, co-ax

The sound made by the eponymous frogs in Aristophanes' play.


Not in the OED. The word, meaning 'a little house', occurs twice in The Playboy of the Western World, Act I.

T.S.E.'s latest essays

As well as Milton, Johnson, Kipling and Yeats, mentioned by GWL, On Poetry and Poets contains Eliot's thoughts on Virgil, Sir John Davies, Byron and Goethe.

ginger-nut … Huntley & Palmer

Crisp biscuit flavoured with ground ginger. Biscuit manufacturer, founded in 1822.


3 May 1958

Vanity Fair … Pendennis … Esmond … 'The Second Funeral of Napoleon' … The Rose and the Ring

Works by Thackeray: Vanity Fair (1847/48, originally published serially) Pendennis (1848/50, ib) The History of Henry Esmond (1852) 'The Second Funeral of Napoleon' (1841) The Rose and the Ring (1855).

British Council

Organisation established by the British government in 1934 to promote British culture, education, science and technology across the world.

thirty guineas

A guinea was £1/1- (one pound and one shilling—or, in decimals, £1.05). Though the guinea coin was replaced by the £1 sovereign coin in 1816 the term guinea remained in use for fees, prices etc until decimalisation in 1971. Using the retail price index, 30 guineas in 1958 would be worth a little over £700 at 2018 values.

the A P Herbert Committee on Obscenity

RH-D served on the committee chaired by A. P. Herbert for promoting the reform of the obscenity laws; its other members were Sir Gerald Barry, Roy Jenkins MP, Denys Kilham Roberts (Secretary General of the Society of Authors), and C R Hewitt (journalist, former senior policeman, and campaigner for social reform; wrote under the pen-name C H Rolph).

the strike ought not to affect me …

London bus crews struck from 5 May to 21 June 1958.

the British Museum

Until the British Library was created as a separate institution in 1973, the British Museum in Bloomsbury housed the national library. Its reading room was famous as a centre of research. The newspaper department at Colindale in North West London closed in 2013 and the collection is now housed in the main building at St Pancras.


8 May 1958

Forster clearly was dreadful

John Forster.

embalmment (spelling?)

The OED confirms GWL's spelling.

why call it a commonplace book … ?

Originally a 'book of common places' in which passages important for reference were collected together under subject headings. GWL's own commonplace book was arranged for publication under just such subject headings by its editor.

Sir, a cow is a very good animal in a field, but we turn her out of a garden

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1771 section): 'A cow is a very good animal in the field; but we turn her out of a garden'.

Gradidge, Gunn and Moore

Manufacturers of cricket bats, founded 1870 and 1885.

a certain kind of willow

Cricket-bat Willow (Salix alba 'Caerulea').

one about a judge

The Judge's Story (1947) tells of Sir William Gascony a retired judge and his relations with his ward (Vivien), a ruthless tycoon (Severidge), and Vivien's ineffectual husband.

a poor untidy thing

Deirdre of the Sorrows (Act 2): 'death should be a poor, untidy thing, though it's a queen that dies'.

Wasn’t his reputation abroad much higher than in England, and why?

In the ODNB, Tanis Hinchcliffe writes:

… in France his novels aroused some academic interest. Marius-François Guyard explained this by the French discovering in the novels their own idea of England, and pointed out that critics as varied as Paul Valéry and François Mauriac took notice of Morgan's work.

the surly advance of decrepitude

'But painting is a friend who makes no undue demands, excites no exhausting pursuits, keeps faithful pace even with feeble steps, and holds her canvas as a screen between us and the envious eyes of Time or the surly advance of Decrepitude.' (Churchill, 'Hobbies' in Thoughts and Adventures, 1932)


11 May 1958


The principal research library of the University of Oxford.

Gordon Ray's two volumes

Thackeray—The Uses of Adversity 1811–46 (1955) and ThackerayThe Age of Wisdom 1847–63 (1958).

my advertisement … Times

RH-D reproduced enthusiastic endorsements from Evelyn Waugh, Lord David Cecil, Anthony Powell and Raymond Mortimer. Waugh's ended with the words, 'a book for the library, to be read and reread, and loved for a lifetime.'

Nowadays all great men have disciples …

Wilde, The Critic as Artist (1891): 'Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes his biography.'


15 May 1958

Philip Sidneyish

Heroically self-sacrificing. (Mortally wounded in battle, Sidney is said to have given his water-bottle to another wounded soldier, saying, 'Thy necessity is yet greater than mine'. (Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, The Life of Sir Philip Sidney, 1652).

Ivor Brown … England

A Book of England (1958), an anthology, copiously illustrated with photographs from The Times.

'going rather too far, Algernon'

E F Benson, As We Were, 1934:

'Shall I tell our visitor about the man of Peru?' he once asked Mr Watts-Dunton. But no. 'I think that goes a little too far, Algernon,' was the reply, and so the doings of the man of Peru remained shrouded in a discreet mystery.

The Stricken Deer

Biography of William Cowper by Lord David Cecil. Cowper suffered from mental illness, and though religion gave him some relief it also provoked in him the fear of eternal damnation.


17 May 1958

tire the sun with talking

William Cory, Heraclitus 

… how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking
And sent him down the sky.

Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame

Story in which a poor monk, formerly a juggler, unable to offer lavish offerings at the shrine of the Virgin Mary, secretly offers all he can: the best display he can give of his juggling.

Ora pro nobis

Pray for us.

trait des moeurs

Feature of social conduct.


21 May 1958

Chapter 2 (or 3)

Ch. 2. Passage beginning 'The lion heart, the splendid gestures—such heroic things were there, no doubt—visible to everybody; but their true significance in the general scheme of her character was remote and complicated.'

I treasure Housman's sentence …

The lecture was 'The Name and Nature of Poetry', the Leslie Stephen Lecture delivered at Cambridge on 9 May 1933. Housman quoted the cut sentence in a letter to his brother Laurence, 24 May 1933.

Mrs Humphry Ward wrote … to The Times

Mrs Ward was Thomas Arnold's granddaughter. She wrote persistently to The Times, but of the 38 letters that I can find of which she was sole signatory or co-signatory, none deals with Strachey or Dr Arnold.

I said that humility was an essential basis of greatness, and you wouldn't have it.

Letters of 13 and 16 December 1956. RH-D had not disputed GWL's contention, but had disagreed that humility was impossible without religious belief.

Miss Bogan

(Of Ezra Pound) 'The obsessed always lack that final ingredient of greatness, humility.'

I pause for a reply

Julius Caesar, 3:2.

M. Savant

Napoleon in His Time by Jean Savant, published in Katherine John's English translation, 1958.


26 May 1958

Home Life with Herbert Spencer

By 'Two' (pen name of the Misses M and D Baker) published 1906.

free, white and forty-one

An embellishment of an old (American?) saying, 'free, white and twenty-one'—referring to a free agent unconstrained by being under-age or enslaved.


28 May 1958

O Valiant Hearts

Hymn with words by John Arkwright, 1917, usually sung to the tune 'Ellers' by Edward Hopkins.

There is a fountain filled with blood …

Hymn with words by William Cowper, sung to several different tunes.


1 June 1958

The Glorious First of June

Old phrase referring not to the customary weather but to a naval battle of 1794 between the British and French fleets, hailed by both sides as a victory.

Glorious Fourth …

Eton gala day on or about 4 June.

a book on Mark Pattison

Mark Pattison and the Idea of a University, 1967, Cambridge University Press.

Sparrow … edited Donne's Devotions … Cowley … King

Donne's Devotions upon Emergent Occasions: Sparrow's edition was published by Cambridge University Press in 1923. His edition of The Poems of Bishop Henry King for the Nonesuch Press was published in 1925 and his collection of poems by Abraham Cowley in 1926.


4 June 1958

A chase

Originally a hunting-ground, a tract of unenclosed land reserved for breeding and hunting wild animals; unenclosed park-land (OED).

Mrs Knox

In the Somerville and Ross 'Irish R M' stories.

Stots, perhaps …

Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue:

This Reve sat upon a ful good stot,
That was al pomely grey, and highte Scot.

a frigid and a calculating lie

Balfour used this phrase in 1909 to rebut the Liberals' charge that, if elected, Balfour's Conservative party would repeal the Old Age Pensions Act.

Birkett … pass degree

In fact Birkett obtained a second class degree.

The Letters of T.E. Lawrence 

Edited by David Garnett (1938).

Iras the beggar

Odyssey, 18:50–116. The beggar's name is Ἶρος (or  Ἀρναῖος) almost always given as 'Irus' in English. This is possibly a mistranscription of GWL's manuscript: as a classicist he seems unlikely to have used a non-standard spelling.

My God, I have it unto thee

Apparently another mistranscription of GWL's handwriting: Brown's poem 'Dora' ends:

And horror crept
Into her aching heart, and Dora wept.
If this is as it ought to be,
My God, I leave it unto Thee.


9 June 1958

not a po emptied

A po: a chamber pot

locusts … wild honey

Matthew 3:4—locusts and wild honey were the diet of John the Baptist in the wilderness.

silence coming like a poultice …

Oliver Wendell Holmes, 'The Music Grinders', 1836:

But hark! the air again is still,
The music all is ground,
And silence, like a poultice, comes
To heal the blows of sound

Possibly better known through P G Wodehouse's quotation of it in Pigs Have Wings (1952): 'For some moments after silence had come like a poultice to heal the blows of sound, all that occupied his mind was the thought of what pests the gentler sex were when they got hold of a telephone.'

Gibbon's superb footnote

Quoted verbatim in RH-D's letter of 13 July 1958.


Shyness; embarrassment.


The western half of a large expanse of playing fields at Eton.


10 June 1958

a mute inglorious Whymper

Gray's Elegy ('Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest') combined with Edward Whymper (1840–1911) famous for first climbing the Matterhorn, in 1865.


17 June 1958

The Sign of Four, A Study in Scarlet, The Memoirs, and The Hound of the Baskervilles

Sherlock Holmes books: novels, The Sign of Four (1890), A Study in Scarlet (1897), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) and a collection of short stories, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894).

Lente, lente, currite!

Run slowly!' Originally from Ovid's Amore (Liber I, XIII, Line 40: 'Lente currite noctis equi') wishing the horses pulling Time's chariot to go slowly to prolong the night. Quoted in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.


20 June 1958

Like judgment, honesty is fled to brutish beasts

Julius Caesar 3:2.

'Namus, namus'

Henry Adams, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres, Ch 14:

… when the volume of Abelard's Theology was produced and the clerk began to read it aloud, after the first few sentences the bishops ceased attention, talked, joked, laughed, stamped their feet, got angry, and at last went to sleep. They were waked only to growl 'Damnamus—namus', and so made an end.

quam diutissime

As long as possible.


23 June 1958

He who lives more lives than one

From 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol'


29 June 1958

in vacuo

'in emptiness'—in isolation, without reference to any related material.


King Arthur's last battle, in which he was mortally wounded.

'watch that little tent of blue, which prisoners call the sky'

'The Ballad of Reading Gaol':

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky.


29 June 1958

He had one son, now I believe in an asylum

Raymond Douglas, born 1902 was institutionalised 1927–32, 1932–44, and 1944 until his death in 1964.

Henley Regatta

Annual rowing event at Henley-on-Thames, lasting five days (Wednesday to Sunday) over the first weekend in July.


2 July 1958


The product of nocturnal study and meditation; often used to imply pedantry or excessive length.

'sweetness and light'

Phrase coined by Swift and popularised by Matthew Arnold, who regarded sweetness as beauty, and light as intelligence – together constituting 'the essential character of human perfection'.

Zu Dienstag!

Until Tuesday!


5 July 1958

a darlin' man

Quoting Seán O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock.

King Charles's head

Idée fixe of Mr Dick in Dickens's David Copperfield, Ch 14.


9 July 1958

his mother … Napoleon

Napoleon returned from Elba in 1815, and died in 1821. Belloc's grandmother – Anne-Louise, née Swanton (1796–1881) – might have seen him, but Belloc's mother – Elizabeth Rayner née Parkes (1829–1925) – could not.

un homme rompu

A broken man.

Edith Thompson was condemned …

In 1923 Thompson and her lover, Freddy Bywaters, were hanged for the murder of her husband. In 1988, Fiona MacCarthy called the case 'a trial in which male prejudice, dishonesty and sheer stupidity ran riot.' Bywaters confessed to the murder, but said that Edith did not know he intended to do it. MacCarthy calls Edith's conviction 'a miscarriage of justice' for which 'the moral climate of the period' was to blame.

rather commit adultery than drink a glass of port

This exists in many versions (the drink is variously port, whisky or beer, though the alternative to the drink always remains adultery). It is most often, on no known evidence, told of Lady Astor, vis-à-vis either Churchill or Oswald Mosley or a naval cadet, or an anonymous heckler at a public meeting. C S Lewis told a variant of the story in which a puritanical don, E E Jenner, said at High Table that he would rather commit adultery than drink a glass of wine, to which the Provost of Oriel, the Rev Lancelot Phelps, replied, 'So would we all, Jenner, but not at the table, if you please.' (Letter from Lewis to his brother, 5 November 1939.)

climbing the steep ascent to heaven …

Hymn, The Son of God Goes Forth To War by Bishop Reginald Heber: 'They climbed the steep ascent of heaven, through peril, toil and pain.'


15 July 1958

A Peck of Troubles

1936, 'An anatomy of woe, in which are collected by Daniel George Many Hundreds of Examples of those Chagrins and Mortifications which have beset, still beset, and ever will beset the human race and overshadow its journey through this earth'.

Alphabetical order

1949, 'A gallimaufry'.

Book of Anecdotes

1957, 'illustrating varieties of experience in the lives of the illustrious and the obscure'.

'the least thing worries me to death'

In the first chapter of the whole Saga:

'I'm very well in myself,' proceeded James, 'but my nerves are out of order. The least thing worries me to death. I shall have to go to Bath.'

the Shakespeare sonnet

Arnold's 1849 poem, which begins 'Others abide our question. Thou art free' contains the lines

'Self-school'd, self-scann'd, self-honour'd, self-secure'


For the loftiest hill
That to the stars uncrowns his majesty,
Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea.

Who prop, thou ask'st, in these bad days, my mind

Opening line of 'To a Friend' (1849).

that simile of Rustum eyeing S …

As some rich woman, on a winter's morn,
Eyes through her silken curtains the poor drudge
Who with numb blacken'd fingers makes her fire—
At cock-crow, on a starlit winter's morn,
When the frost flowers the whiten'd window-panes—
And wonders how she lives, and what the thoughts
Of that poor drudge may be; so Rustum eyed
The unknown adventurous youth …

Black leagues of forest roaring like the sea
And far lands dim with rains

Alexander Smith, City Poems (1857), 'A Boy's Poem'.

Petrarch's observation about his housekeeper

In a letter to Francesco Nelli, Petrarch wrote of his woman servant:

If you see her you would think you were gazing on the Libyan or Ethiopian desert, a face so dry within, so sunburnt, sustained by no vital juices. If Helen had had such a face, Troy would still be standing; if Lucretia, Tarquin would not have been banished from Rome; if Virginia, Appius would not have ended his life in prison. (Morris Bishop, ed, Letters from Petrarch, 1966, p 123)

Florence Nightingale: 'Rest! Rest!...

Originally much earlier than Florence Nightingale; Isaac D'Israeli, in his Curiosities of Literature (published in sections between 1791 and 1823) ascribes it to Antoine Arnauld (1612-94). See also note for 4 April 1956.

I doubt if any were among the spoils collected by that thief

The Times of 15 July reported that a thief had raided dormitories in Warre House, Eton College, stealing about £14 from ten wallets, some savings books, a Premium Bond, and driving licences.


20 July 1958

crise de nerfs

Attack of nerves.

Balder Dead

Poem by Matthew Arnold in the style of Norse mythology.


24 July 1958

With stupidity and sound digestion a man may front much

Sartor Resartus Book 2 Chapter 4. Correctly, 'man', not 'a man'.

the wasps at Harlech

Reference not identified.

a tale told by an idiot

Macbeth 5:5:

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

why are you not a life peer?

Life peerages, not heritable, had existed for, e.g., senior judges for many years but were introduced more generally by the Life Peerages Act, 1958. The first Life Peers under that Act were Baroness Wootton of Abinger and Barons Boothby, Fraser of Lonsdale, Geddes of Epsom, Granville-West, Shackleton, Stonham, Stopford of Fallowfield, Taylor, and Twining.


27 July 1958

Irma La Douce

Parisian musical comedy, music by Marguerite Monnot, book by Alexandre Breffort, English version by Julian More, David Heneker and Monty Norman, directed by Peter Brook; the cast included Elizabeth Seal (as Irma), Keith Michell, Clive Revill and Ronnie Barker. It ran in the West End until March 1962.

Ice Cold in Alex

Film directed by J Lee Thompson, starring John Mills, Sylvia Syms, Anthony Quayle and Harry Andrews, in which a group of soldiers and nurses make a dangerous crossing of North African desert during the second world war. The leader dreams of his ice cold beer when they reach Alexandria.


31 July 1958

Mrs Dalloway

Novel by Virginia Woolf, depicting—like Galsworthy's Forsyte novels—a largely upper class set, but employing a different, experimental narrative technique.

The Man of Property

The first of Galsworthy's Forsyte novels.

Miss Betjeman

Candida Lycett Green (b. 1942), née Paula Rose Betjeman.

and he committed suicide

It is now thought that Richardson's sudden death, aged 41, was from natural causes and not suicide. See Ralph Barker, Ten Great Bowlers, 1967, pp 123–126.

Sir, you may wonder'

Boswell's Life of Johnson (1766 section): Boswell. 'But I wonder, Sir, you have not more pleasure in writing than in not writing.' Johnson. 'Sir, you may wonder.'

old Heythorp's dinner

In Galsworthy's 1916 short story A Stoic, 'Cook's done a little spinach in cream with the soubees.'


4 August 1958

to hear the old fool deliver his judgment

Sir William Fitzgerald QC, president of the Lands Tribunal.

Elephant Bill

J H Williams.


7 August 1958

his normal temperature, literally, was 92

92 degrees Fahrenheit, or 33.3 degrees Celsius. The normal temperature of a healthy, resting adult is generally held to be 98.6 degrees Farenheit (37 degrees Celsius).


Officer Training Corps

he would rather be Streicher or even Havelock Ellis

Hesketh Pearson and Hugh Kingsmill, Talking of Dick Whittington (1947), p 33:

Kingsmill, aware that Shelley, as the lyrical pioneer of Left Wing thought, was not congenial to Malcolm, said 'What about Shelley?' Throwing up his arms, Malcolm cried, 'I'd rather be Julius Streicher or even Havelock Ellis!'

Globe Boswell

The Globe edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson, edited by Mowbray Morris and published in 1893.

Rumer … isn't a name at all.

Rumer is an old English name for a gypsy.

E Blunden's life of him

Blunden's Thomas Hardy was published by Macmillan in 1941.


10 August 1958

Recorder of Chichester

A recorder is a senior lawyer who sits as a part-time judge.

sweetbread: I wonder who brilliantly coined that name …

The term – used for a calf's or lamb's pancreas ('heart sweetbread') and thymus gland ('neck sweetbread') – dates back to the sixteenth century. The OED says of the etymology, 'apparently sweet adj. + bread n., but the reason for the name is not obvious.'

The Friend

Barbara Rooke's edition, part of the Bollingen complete Coleridge, was published in 1969.

George Moore et la France 

By George P Collet (1957).


13 August 1958


Eton prefects, formally known as The Eton Society.


C. E. Pascoe Everyday Life in our Public Schools: 

Scug, Et[on]. Har[row]. Negatively, a boy who is not distinguished in person, in games, or social qualities. Positively, a boy of untidy, dirty, or ill-mannered habits; one whose sense of propriety is not fully developed. 

In the context of this letter it evidently means a boy who has not been awarded any 'colours' – honours for sporting or other achievement.

William Temple's Christian Philosophy

Temple did not publish a book with that title. In 1906 he was a philosophy don at Oxford, not yet ordained,

If Winter Comes, Economic Consequences of the Peace, How Green was my Valley

By Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson (1922); John Maynard Keynes (1919); and Richard Llewellyn (1939).

Black Narcissus and A Fugue in Time

By Rumer Godden.


16 August 1958

Macaulay's History

History of England.

cui bono?

who benefits?


20 August 1958

Amor vincit omnia

Love conquers everything.


(Gr. Ναυσικάα), a young woman of great beauty, daughter of King Alcinous of the Phaeacians and his queen, Arete, in Homer's Odyssey, Book 6. Her name means, 'burner of ships'.

Queen of the Laestrygonians

The Odyssey, Book 10:

οἱ δ᾽ ἐπεὶ εἰσῆλθον κλυτὰ δώματα, τὴν δὲ γυναῖκα
εὗρον, ὅσην τ᾽ ὄρεος κορυφήν, κατὰ δ᾽ ἔστυγον αὐτήν.


One of Falstaff's henchmen in Henry IV pts 1 & 2 and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Falstaff calls him 'the knight of the burning lamp' because his nose is so red, and his face so 'full of meteors.'

Dr Arnold … burst into tears

In his Notebooks (ed. Gere and Sparrow, 1981) Geoffrey Madan quotes A C Benson:

A man who could burst into tears at his own dinner-table on hearing a comparison made between St Paul and St John to the detriment of the latter, and beg that the subject might never be mentioned again in his presence, could never have been an easy companion.


25 August 1958

Earthly Paradise

Phrase earlier than, but popularised by, William Morris's 1870 collection of his verses under this title.


Magazine and miscellany published between 1817 and 1980.


27 August 1958

'spoilt or drunk … '

Galsworthy, In Chancery, Pt 2 Ch 9:

In the wine from that cellar was written the history of the forty odd years since he had come to the Park Lane house with his young bride, and of the many generations of friends and acquaintances who had passed into the unknown; its depleted bins preserved the record of family festivity—all the marriages, births, deaths of his kith and kin. And when he was gone there it would be, and he didn't know what would become of it. It'd be drunk or spoiled, he shouldn't wonder!

'Nearer my God to Thee'

Though in the Church of England 'Nearer My God to Thee' is usually performed to the 1861 tune 'Horbury' by Dykes, Sir Arthur Sullivan did indeed compose not one but two tunes for the hymn: 'Propior Deo' and 'St Edmund'. In the 1958 Titanic film A Night to Remember the Dykes tune is played, as GWL correctly bet his colleague. Dykes also composed the tune to which Newman's 'Lead, Kindly Light' is usually sung.

British Guiana

Now called Guyana. Until 1966, when it was granted independence, a British colony, on the northern coast of South America.

'Lots o' people have made the mistake … '

W W Jacobs, The Nest Egg:

''When I met one of these 'ere artful ones I used fust of all to pretend to be more stupid than wot I really am.' He stopped and stared fixedly.

'More stupid than I looked,' he said. He stopped again.

'More stupid than wot they thought I looked,' he said, speaking with marked deliberation.


31 August 1958

Such lines as those on St Stephen …

From The Circle of Saints by K.E.V.:

Did ever man before so fall asleep?
A cruel shower of stones his only bed,
For lullaby the curses loud and deep
His covering with blood red.


4 September 1958

nihil est ab omni parte beatum

Horace, Odes 2:16, lines 27-28. Literally, nothing is good in every part.


7 September 1958

Aurora Leigh

Epic blank verse poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1856).

to work for Greats

Oxford classics degree, formally Literae Humaniores.

Moss Bros

Men's outfitters, leading hirers of formal clothes.


10 September 1958

'daunting' rhymes with 'mountain'

There is no such passage in the poem.

'Lady Macbeth said … '

Macbeth 1:7:

I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me.
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn
As you have done to this.

they have all been told to quote Goethe

John Peter Eckermann, Conversations of Goethe:

'Macbeth,' said Goethe, 'is Shakespeare's best acting play, the one in which he shows most understanding with respect to the stage.'

murmuring Nunc Dimittis

The opening in the Latin Vulgate of Luke 2:29-32; in the Authorised Version it reads:

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace: according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.

'I ran up the stairs to my rooms, as usual, hoping to die at the top'.

There were forty-four steps to Housman's rooms at Trinity; Housman told his brother Laurence that he continued to run up them two steps at a time, in the hope of dropping dead at the top. (Tom Burns Haber, A E Housman, 1967, p 66.)


14 September 1958

Humphrey's second book

Second Chorus, published by Macgibbon and Key.


17 September 1958

Darby and Joan

Term for an aged and devoted married couple.

Mazarin Bible

Early printed version of the Latin Vulgate dating from c. 1455. Otherwise known as the Gutenberg Bible. Of the forty-eight surviving complete copies, seven are in the UK. Some copies were rebound in later centuries, but Eton College's copy is in a fifteenth century binding. It was presented in 1841 by John Fuller, of Rosehill, Sussex.


21 September 1958


A clergyman who is also the local squire.


24/25 September 1958

'Sir, you must not tell this story again … '

Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi, Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson (1786):

'I would advise you, sir,' said he, with a cold sneer, 'never to relate this story again; you really can scarce imagine how very poor a figure you make in the telling of it.'

va et vient

Coming and going.

cholecystotomy and cholecystectomy

Respectively, cutting of the gall-bladder (to remove gallstones) and removal of the gall-bladder.


Not in the OED or anywhere else that I can find. Some parts of the word have a passing resemblance to dextromethorphan and laevomenthol. which are ingredients of cough medicine.

squatina, squatina, squatina

Squatina squatina is the angel shark. South Kensington is presumably a reference to the Natural History Museum.

a perfectly rough insect

Mathematical problem beginning, 'A perfectly rough insect is moving with uniform speed on the surface of an elephant's trunk in the form of an equiangular spiral. The elephant is moving up a plane inclined at 30 degrees to the horizontal … '

mensa … vocative

Churchill My Early Life (1930):

'Then why does mensa also mean O table?' I inquired, 'and what does O table mean?'

 'Alema, O table, is the vocative case,' he replied.

'But why O table?' I persisted in genuine curiosity.

'O table—you would use that in addressing a table, in invoking a table.' And then seeing he was not carrying me with him, 'You would use it in speaking to a table.'

Manchester Guardian

Newspaper, founded in Manchester in 1821 by a group of nonconformist businessmen. The most liberal of the major daily newspapers. Since 1959 its title has been 'The Guardian' tout court. 

as Mr Gladstone did of the Bulgars

Gladstone was strong in support of the Bulgarians, roundly condemning Turkish atrocities against them in 1876, and denouncing Disraeli's government's support for the Turks.

Mr Dulles's sabre-rattling

America backed the Nationalist Chinese of Taiwan against the Communist Chinese of the mainland.

Horatius Cocles

Horatius Cocles ('Horatius the one-eyed') single-handedly defended the Pons Sublicius, the bridge that led across the Tiber to Rome, against Etruscan invaders. The (legendary) event is celebrated in Lays of Ancient Rome by Macaulay.


28 September 1958

the Symposium about him

T S Eliot: A Symposium for His Seventieth Birthday, published by RH-D, edited by Neville Braybrooke, with contributions from fifty writers, including John Betjeman, Charles Causley, Paul Jennings, Rose Macaulay, Iris Murdoch and Stevie Smith as well as some English schoolboys and girls.

Beycheville 1933

Properly Beychevelle, a Fourth Growth claret. 1933 was a good but not a great year, and RH-D was lucky that a twenty-five year old half-bottle was still 'terrifically good'.


Other widely accepted pronunciations are 'hackloot' and 'hacklout'


1 October 1958

How can anyone be above W.G. or Hobbs … Those lists in order of merit are silly

The practice continues: in 2000 Wisden published a list purporting to be the five leading cricketers of the twentieth century, as voted by a panel of 100 experts. Those selected were in descending order, D G Bradman, G S Sobers, J B Hobbs, S K Warne and I V A Richards.

there is no measuring the precedence between a louse and a flea

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1783 section): 

'Pray, Sir, (said he,) whether do you reckon Derrick or Smart the best poet?' Johnson at once felt himself roused; and answered, 'Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.'


An abomination.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

1955 play by Thomas Lanier ('Tennessee') Williams.

Rebecca West and Senor Madariaga

Rebecca West typified Hamlet as 'a bad man' whom actors and audiences have persisted in romanticising. To Salvador de Madariaga, Hamlet was egotistical and Machiavellian.

'I'll lug the guts'

Hamlet 3:4


8 October 1958

K. E. Gransden

Correctly, K W Gransden.

Harrison Ainsworth

The Tower of London, historical novel published in 1840.

Macaulay's fine paragraph

History of England Vol I Ch 5 (1848):

In truth there is no sadder spot on the earth than that little cemetery. Death is there associated, not, as in Westminster Abbey and St Paul's, with genius and virtue, with public veneration and imperishable renown; not, as in our humblest churches and churchyards, with everything that is most endearing in social and domestic charities; but with whatever is darkest in human nature and in human destiny, with the savage triumph of implacable enemies, with the inconstancy, the ingratitude, the cowardice of friends, with all the miseries of fallen greatness and of blighted fame.


11 October 1958


Alluding to The Natural History of Selborne (1788) by Gilbert White, a pioneering naturalist and ornithologist.

this idiotic moon-rocket

The British rocket 'Black Knight' was being tested at Woomera, Australia.

some dim Cambridge don

'Myra Buttle' was Victor Purcell, a Cambridge lecturer.

diaries, which he thinks I'm just the chap to edit

Sassoon's diaries were edited by RH-D and published in three volumes between 1981 and 1985. See bibliography.

Shadow of Heroes

Directed by Peter Hall. The cast also included Emlyn Williams, Alan Webb and Stephen Murray. The play ran for only one month. A BBC production the following year starred Ashcroft, in her first performance on television.


19 October 1958

succès fou

A wild success

a Cézanne

Cézanne's 'Boy in a Red Waistcoat' had just sold at Sotheby's for a record-breaking £220,000. The sale aroused great interest, and those present included Lady Churchill, Somerset Maugham, Margot Fonteyn and Sir John Rothenstein, Director of the Tate Gallery.


23 October 1958


now generally known as fillet of beef

the Elek people

London publishing firm founded by Paul Elek (1906-76).

two horror films

Curse of the Faceless Man (described by GWL) was showing in a double bill at the London Pavilion with It! The Terror from Beyond Space. Both were written by Jerome Bixby and directed by Edward L Cahn.

quills upon the fretful porpentine

Hamlet 1:5:

I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand an end
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine.


26 October 1958

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

1952 film directed by Henry King, based on Hemingway's short story of the same title.


Philip Magnus, Kitchener: Portrait of an Imperialist. (1958).

Sir Charles Dilke

Roy Jenkins, Sir Charles Dilke: A Victorian Tragedy (1958).

The Abbey Theatre

Gerard Fay, The Abbey Theatre, Cradle of Genius (1958).

The Oxford Book of Irish Verse

The Oxford Book of Irish Verse, XVIIth Century-XXth Century, chosen by Donagh MacDonagh and Lennox Robinson (1958).


30 October 1958


Simpson's in the Strand, well-known London restaurant, founded in 1828, specialising in English cooking.

minded his belly very carefully

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1763 section)

'For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look upon it, that he who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind any thing else.'

Does God like the Devil?' 'No, he hates him.' …

Robinson Crusoe, Ch 15

'Well,' says Friday, 'but you say God is so strong, so great; is He not much strong, much might as the devil?' 'Yes, yes,' says I, 'Friday; God is stronger than the devil—God is above the devil, and therefore we pray to God to tread him down under our feet, and enable us to resist his temptations and quench his fiery darts.' 'But,' says he again, 'if God much stronger, much might as the wicked devil, why God no kill the devil, so make him no more do wicked?'

these young Oxonians

A dispute among the rowing fraternity of the university, which threatened to deprive the Oxford team of some of its best oarsmen, received much coverage in The Times.

Thomas Lyttelton winning the Steeplechase

Thomas Glynne Lyttelton, captain of athletics (son of GWL's youngest brother), won the Eton College steeplechase (run over five miles) for the second successive year.

The lady … ended as a(n) R.C. of exceptional piety

Virginia Crawford accused Dilke of seducing her. In the ODNB Roy Jenkins writes:

But what prompted Mrs Crawford's false story? Cardinal Manning, who instructed her for her reception into the Roman Catholic church in 1889 and was amiably disposed towards Dilke, was said to know the whole truth, but never revealed it.

oratio obliqua

Indirect speech.

Mr Pecksniff

Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, Ch 11:

'All hail to the vessel of Pecksniff the sire!
And favouring breezes to fan;
While Tritons flock round it, and proudly admire
The architect, artist, and man!'


2 November 1958

Henry James said of his T.L.S. article, 'an insensate step.'

James's contributions to the TLS were an unsigned review of Balzac (Grands Ecrivains Francais) by Emile Faguet, published in June 1913; a long, signed leader on The Younger Generation published in two parts in March and April 1914; and a signed leader on Refugees in Chelsea published posthumously in March 1916. (TLS archive.) He made the remark about the 'insensate step' apropos of the 1914 article in a letter to Hugh Walpole. (Rupert Hart-Davis, Hugh Walpole, 1952, pp 111–113)


5 November 1958

Patience … first for an Oscar expert

Patience satirises the aesthetic movement of the 1880s, and many people take the character Bunthorne to be a caricature of Wilde, though experts on W S Gilbert discount this.

me judice

'I being judge'—in my opinion. (Ablative first person singular pronoun + ablative of iudex.)

our rector

The Rev R W Scofield.

Travels in the Cevennes with Sidney Colvin

Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes was dedicated to Colvin.


8 November 1958

Miss Reeves sang 'Under the wide and starry sky'

Stevenson's poem 'Requiem', set to music by several composers. The text is:

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you 'grave for me:
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill

The Abbé Liszt …

E C Bentley, Complete Clerihews (2008), p 78:

The Abbé Liszt
Hit the piano with his fist.
That was the way
He used to play.


UK magazine published between 1926 and 1974, specialising in short stories. Duff Hart-Davis's story In Cold Blood was published in the March 1959 issue, followed by two others, in 1960 and 1963.

Bumpus's new bookshop

The well-known Oxford Street bookshop relocated to the corner of Baker Street and Portman Square.

The Elder Statesman

The play was directed by E Martin Browne, with a cast including Paul Rogers, Anna Massey, William Squire and Alec McCowen. It ran at the Cambridge Theatre, London, from 25 September to 29 November 1958.


13 November 1958

Divorce coupled with Admiralty

The Judicature Act of 1873 rationalised the English court system, hitherto comprising numerous courts, most of them dating back to mediaeval times with overlapping judicial powers. The diminished functions of the existing Admiralty Courts were transferred to a new Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court, consisting of two judges, who, in addition to probate and divorce business, exercised the jurisdiction formerly exercised by the Admiralty Court.


GWL's reference is to a quatrain recited by A J Balfour:

When Nature made Phillimore
She made a most infernal bore
If she made a Phillimost
Nature would give up the ghost.

Quoted in The Coalition Diaries of H A L Fisher, 1916–1922 (2006)

like Goldsmith

Washington Irving, The Life of Oliver Goldsmith, Ch 35:

One relates to a venerable dish of peas, served up at Sir Joshua's table, which should have been green, but were any other color. A wag suggested to Goldsmith, in a whisper, that they should be sent to Hammersmith, as that was the way to turn-em-green (Turnham Green). Goldsmith, delighted with the pun, endeavored to repeat it at Burke's table, but missed the point. 'That is the way to make 'em green,' said he. Nobody laughed. He perceived he was at fault. 'I mean that is the road to turn 'em green.' A dead pause and a stare.

Mowcher Cecil

Lady Mary Alice Gascoyne-Cecil (1895–1988) m. 10th Duke of Devonshire. (Known as 'Moucher', rather than 'Mowcher'; the latter is a character in David Copperfield.)


16 November 1958

in the ablative plural—or isn't it?

It is.

'Better than nothing, sir'

Correctly, second to none.

Can you explain the meaning of 'run to and fro like sparks among the stubble'?

The Wisdom of Solomon, 3:1-7:

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace. For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself. As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt offering. And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble.

And is it not rather hard on the beloved dead that we should pray for light perpetual to shine on them?

From the Book of Common Prayer, Burial of the Dead:

Father of all, we pray to you for N., and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Crazy Gang

A troupe of comedians popular from the 1930s to the 1950s.


19 November 1958

pax in bello

Peace in [the midst of] war.

'out of their bellies … '

John 7:38:

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

The judge rather pointedly said zēbra.

The OED prefers zēbra, but admits zĕbra. Professor J C Wells, of University College London, wrote in 1998 that younger people in Britain prefer the zĕbra form, although zēbra remains current in American usage.


23 November 1958

Dum Spiro Spero

While I breathe I hope.

Celia Johnson's new play

The Grass is Greener by Hugh and Margaret Williams.


Proserpine, daughter of Ceres, the goddess of corn, was abducted by Pluto, god of the Underworld. He allowed her to return to earth for half the year, but during the other half, when she was with Pluto, Ceres stopped everything growing: hence the winter.

Benjamin Britten's new opera

Curlew River: A Parable for Church Performance (Op 71), the first of three 'Church Parables' by Britten. The work is based on Sumidagawa a Japanese noh play, transformed by Plomer into a Christian parable. This was the second of four libretti Plomer wrote for Britten.


27 November 1958

ung Dieu, ung Roy

One god, one king

My great-greatgrandfather was Governor of Jamaica

Sir William Lyttelton, Governor from 1762 to 1766. Later first Baron Lyttelton when the barony was revived in 1794.

one Deeming solved it for a good many years, by burying wife after wife in his cement kitchen floor

Frederick Bailey Deeming (1853–1892) murdered one wife and four stepchildren in England and another wife in Australia, burying their bodies under cement or concrete floors. (Barry O. Jones, Australian Dictionary of Biography)


30 November 1958


See 'scug' above (13 August 1958)

Australian umpire

In the twentieth century Australian umpires had a reputation for favouring their national side. (Later, host countries ceased to provide Test umpires; umpires from non-participating countries were brought in.)

W. S. Maugham's last book

Points of View, a collection of essays.

He who lives more lives than one..

'The Ballad of Reading Gaol'.


4 December 1958

Marie Celeste

Correctly, Mary Celeste, a brigantine found in the Atlantic deserted but under full sail in 1872. The fate of the crew is unknown.

Wallace murder

William Herbert Wallace was convicted in 1931 of the murder of his wife in their home in Liverpool. After re-examination of evidence the conviction was later overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal. Public opinion was divided on the question of Wallace's innocence.


Probably a reference to the Tranby Croft gambling case (1891) in which the Prince of Wales was involved. The question was whether Sir William Gordon-Cumming had or had not cheated at baccarat.


7 December 1958

his male secretary

Alan Searle.


10 December 1958

Orphic myth

Variant of the standard Ancient Greek mythology, in which primaeval beings caused mists to form and solidify into a Cosmic Egg from which all life sprang.


14 December 1958

Golden Arrow

Known in France as Fleche d'or; luxury train between Paris and Calais, corresponding with the British Golden Arrow between Dover and London.

Theatre Royal

RH-D was wrong about the date of the building. The theatre was opened in 1884 and redesigned by the great theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1902.

The Hostage

Presented by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop company, with a cast including Howard Goorney, Avis Bunnage and Murray Melvin. The production later successfully played in the West End and also in Paris.

She has long been a close friend of Mr Gaitskell

'close friend' was a tactful understatement. Gaitskell's affair with Ann Fleming was widely known in political circles. In the wake of the Profumo affair it might have been a grave political liability had Gaitskell lived to fight the 1964 general election. For the Conservatives Quintin Hogg had already fired a shot across his bows: 'If you can tell me there are no adulterers on the front bench of the Labour Party, you can talk to me about Profumo.' (The New Statesman, 19 November 2009)

Austrian Ambassador

Prince Schwarzenberg.


18 December 1958


Whatever (Latin).


20 December 1958

cup's a cup for a' that

cf. Robert Burns, 'Is There For Honest Poverty': 'A man's a man for a' that'.

petit suisse

Normandy cheese, a fromage frais, unsalted, smooth and creamy, often eaten with sugar, jam or honey as a dessert.

West Side Story

1957 Broadway musical with music by Leonard Bernstein, book by Arthur Laurents and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

East Harrow

A by-election at Harrow East was precipitated by the resignation of the MP Ian Harvey following his arrest for gross indecency in St James's Park.


1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, notorious for its subject: the sexual obsession of the narrator Humbert Humbert with a far from innocent twelve-year-old girl.


31 December 1958

quam diutissime

As long as possible.

Notes to Volume 4: 1959


4 January 1959

Russian projectiles are 'orbiting'…

Moscow Radio announced on 2 January that Russia had launched a rocket 'towards the moon'.

Our cricketers are a laughing-stock

In the second test against Australia at Melbourne, England lost three wickets for seven runs in the first twenty minutes.

Our Foreign Secretary has lost his tonsils

Selwyn Lloyd underwent a tonsillectomy on 1 January.

There is no health in us.

From the General Confession, Morning Prayer (Book of Common Prayer):

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us.

Philip Astley's memorial service

Philip Astley died on Christmas Eve. The service was held in the chapel of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

Free Forester

Free Foresters—amateur cricket club, founded in 1856.


By Vladimir Nabokov.


8 January 1959

the board I am on

Several examining boards awarded the General Certificate of Education, including the Oxford and Cambridge and the Northern University Joint Matriculation Boards. An examiner commented. 'There was a multiplicity of boards with differing styles … the elegant history essay that went down well with Oxford and Cambridge was lightweight and facile in the stern eyes of the Northern Joint Matriculation Board, whose preferred rigorous, detailed response would be regarded by O and C as pedantic, dull and failing to see the wood for the trees.' (Letter to The Times, 27 August 2001.)

Marquez mes mots

Mark my words.

laudator temporis acti

Praiser of times past.

Reith lecture

By Sir Bernard Lovell (1913–2012), Professor of Radio Astronomy at Manchester University and Director of Jodrell Bank radio telescope 1951–1980.

I saw Eternity the other night

Opening lines of The World by Henry Vaughan.

me judice

'I being judge'—in my opinion. (Ablative first person singular pronoun + ablative of iudex.)

Talk to all women as if you were in love with them, and all men as if bored.

A Woman of No Importance, Act 3:

Oh! talk to every woman as if you loved her, and to every man as if he bored you, and at the end of your first season you will have the reputation of possessing the most perfect social tact.


It is to be hoped.


10 January 1959

The Curse of the Misbegotten

By Crosswell Bowen. RH-D published it in 1960; it ran to 384 pages.


18 January 1959

Third Programme talk on African Art

By Dennis Duerden.

'an insensate step'

In a letter to Hugh Walpole, Henry James so described his agreement to contribute an article to the Times Literary Supplement in March 1914. Quoted by RH-D in chapter eight of his Hugh Walpole.


26 January 1959

That idiotic and gratuitous letter in The Times

Letter in The Times on 22 January, deploring any attempt to ban the publication of Lolita, signed by J R Ackerley, Walter Allen, A Alvarez, Isaiah Berlin, Maurice Bowra, Storm Jameson, Frank Kermode, Allen Lane, Margaret Lane, Rosamund Lehmann, Compton Mackenzie, Iris Murdoch, William Plomer, V S Pritchett, Alan Pryce Jones, Peter Quennell, Herbert Read, Stephen Spender, Philip Toynbee, Bernard Wall and Angus Wilson.


30 January 1959

'proudly eminent'

Paradise Lost, Book 1:

Thir dread commander: he above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent
Stood like a Towr


Preparatory school, attended by the young GWL.

C.E. Montague observed that even murder wasn't as serious as all that

According to James Agate it was not Montague but his Manchester Guardian colleague Allan Monkhouse who said this of Bourchier's Macbeth. (Brief Chronicles, 1943, p 241.)

Bradley on 'What, in our house?'

Bradley comments that in speaking thus of being told of Duncan's murder, Lady Macbeth shows her lack of sensibility, to which Banquo's response, 'Too cruel anywhere' is, in Bradley's phrase 'almost a reproof'.

cats on hot tin roofs

See note for 1 October 1958.

a profound and manly dislike for the book we have not read

Chesterton, Robert Browning, Ch 5:

We all have a dark feeling of resistance towards people we have never met, and a profound and manly dislike of the authors we have never read.


Main character of a series of humorous books by Herbert, drawing on his contributions to Punch. Topsy is a superficially flighty but shrewd young woman of the 1930s.

Charing Cross Road

London thoroughfare known for its second-hand book shops.

where things are done you'd not believe in Soho Square on Xmas eve

Rupert Brooke, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester (1912)

And Barton men make Cockney rhymes,
And Coton's full of nameless crimes,
And things are done you'd not believe
At Madingley, on Christmas Eve.


1 February 1959

the iron tongue of midnight has tolled goodness knows what

A Midsummer Night's Dream, 5:1: 'The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve'.


4 February 1959

the east wind is abroad in the land like Bright's angel of death

John Bright, speech made on 23 February 1855: 'The Angel of Death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of his wings'.


Quasi-religious sect seeking Divine Wisdom—a state of consciousness in which the sage or mystic goes beyond his or her mind and gets a revelation of pure Truth.

Lamb's with Quakers

'A Quakers' Meeting' (Essays of Elia) reveals Lamb's mixed feelings about Quakers.

Bishop Leadbeter … Helbert … Sligger

There is no lack of evidence in re Leadbeter and Urquhart, but if Helbert had an irregular private life posterity seems unaware of it.


7 February 1959


General Certificate of Education. The 'Ordinary' level was the standard academic qualification for 16-year olds in the 1950s—80s.

Stephen Potter's autobiography

Steps to Immaturity (1959). The Times Literary Supplement, called it 'this sympathetic, beguiling book' and looked forward to a sequel, and other papers from The Daily Express to The New Statesman praised it in their reviews.


12 February 1959

an unconscionable time a-dying

Charles II is said to have apologised to his courtiers, 'I have been a most unconscionable time dying, but I beg you to excuse it.'


15 February 1959

Mr Butler, Sir John Wolfenden and the musical glasses

Butler, as Home Secretary, sponsored the Wolfenden Committee on homosexual offences and prostitution. The reference to musical glasses seems to be to Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield, Chapter 9, in which two ladies of the town ‘would talk of nothing but high life, and high lived company; with other fashionable topics, such as pictures, taste, Shakespear, and the musical glasses'.


19 February 1959

I should like Housman to have seen it.

Housman, A Shropshire Lad II:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough.


Acetone diethyl sulphone, a hypnotic, not associated with the treatment of leprosy. GWL probably meant sulfonamides—antibacterial drugs developed in the 1930s.


22 February 1959

three and sixpence

17½p. Worth about £7 in 2017 using average earnings as a multiplier.


29 February

you will always find ascribed to Jowett

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography correctly ascribes it to Thompson.

Where can one find L.H.'s. Echo de Paris?

Echo de Paris: A Study from Life was published in a limited edition by Jonathan Cape in 1923.

Didn't he write something good about Gray not long ago?

Thomas Gray: A Biography, published by the Cambridge University Press in 1955.

Freyberg who I believe was a dentist

He was: see biography section.

that vicar who wants flogging back

The Rev A W Butterworth's remarks from the pulpit were reported in The Times (23 February) under the headline 'Corporal punishment plea at Much Birch.'

that tremendous epitaph

Samuel Wesley, quoted by Johnson in his Dictionary:

Beneath this tomb an infant lies,
To earth whose body lent
Hereafter shall more glorious rise,
But not more innocent.
When the archangel's trump shall blow,
And souls to bodies join,
What crowds shall wish their lives below
Had been as short as thine!


1 March 1959

Seven Years in Tibet

By Heinrich Harrer, published by RH-D in 1953.

a book on Yugoslavia

The Iron Gate of Illyria by Torgny Sommelius, translated by Naomi Walford.

Be secret and exult

Correctly quoted except that 'this' should read 'that'.


5 March 1959

Wilfred Feinburgh

Correctly Fienburgh: see biographies section.

Stand on the right and let the rest pass you

On the London Underground by long custom travellers stand on the right-hand side of escalators so that those in haste, or of an athletic disposition, can run unimpeded up or down the left hand side.


8 March 1959

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Celebrated self-help book by Dale Carnegie, published in 1937.

the wife of Jonathan Cape's partner

Eileen Howard, wife of George Wren Howard since 1915, described in The Times as 'a charming and popular hostess.'

his life of Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame 1859—1932 (1959).


12 March 1959

'Little Orphant Annie'

By James Whitcomb Riley (1849—1916), 'Inscribed with all faith and affection to all the little children: the happy ones; and sad ones; the sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones; the good ones—yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.' It begins:

Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep.


Archaic name of Brighton.

Blanco White's sonnet

'To Night'

Mysterious Night! when our first parent knew
Thee from report divine, and heard thy name,
Did he not tremble for this lovely frame,
This glorious canopy of light and blue?
Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,
Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame,
Hesperus with the host of heaven came,
And lo! Creation widened in man's view.
Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed
Within thy beams, O Sun! or who could find,
Whilst fly and leaf and insect stood revealed,
That to such countless orbs thou mad'st us blind!
Why do we then shun Death with anxious strife?
If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?

the finest and most grandly conceived

Coleridge (correctly quoted by GWL) was the dedicatee of the sonnet, so possibly parti-pris.

genus irritabile

Genus irritabile [vatum]: Horace, Epistles 2.2.102—the touchy tribe [of poets].


15 March 1959

dim religious light

Milton, Il Penseroso:

And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light:
There let the pealing organ blow
To the full voiced choir below.


19 March 1959

Burnham scale

National pay scale for schoolteachers, named after Harry Lawson, 1st Viscount Burnham (1862—1933), who chaired the standing joint committee on teachers' pay.


25 March 1959

Brahms, who wrote to someone

To Joseph Joachim, November 1878.

Gallstones by Milesworthy

The spoonerism is marred by the fact that Milestones is not by Galsworthy but by Arnold Bennett, with Edward Knoblock.

some rather dreary reminiscences of Galsworthy

'Portrait of John Galsworthy' on the BBC Home Service, which included contributions from members of his family, his housekeeper, chauffeur, and friends including St John Ervine, R H Mottram and others. The BBC thought it undreary enough to rebroadcast in 1967 as a centenary tribute.


29 March 1959

marching from Aldermaston

The Berkshire village of Aldermaston became synonymous with the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment located there. Opponents of atomic weapons frequently made protest marches to or from it in the 1950s and 60s.

Report and Third Reading

A parliamentary bill originating in the Commons goes through various stages. The First Reading is a formality, presenting the bill to the House; the Second considers the bill in principle; the Committee stage, usually away from the main debating chamber, deals with the details of the bill; the Report stage considers the bill as amended in committee; the Third Reading is the final look at the finished bill before it is sent to the House of Lords.

Next Friday is said to be Neville Cardus's seventieth birthday

In fact Cardus was born in 1888.


1 April 1959

Une des plus grandes preuves de médiocrité… 

One of the greatest proofs of mediocrity is not recognising superiority when it is found.

The Reluctant Debutante

1958 film directed by Vincente Minnelli based on William Douglas-Home's play of the same name.


5 April 1959

music critic of the Daily Telegraph

Martin Cooper (1910–1986), chief music critic of the Telegraph from 1954 to 1976, was a Wykehamist. Donald Mitchell (1925–2017) junior music critic from 1959 to 1964, was at Dulwich College.

the tall bearded Levantine was Felix Aprahamian …

Probably not: Aprahamian was short and almost perfectly spherical. He was memorably described by Bernard Levin as 'bearded like the pard and with a waistline that has often been mistaken for the QE2 sailing sideways, but a man who knows more about music than a hundred other experts in the subject.'


9 April 1959

O evening sun of July

O evening sun of July, how, at this hour, thy beams fall slant on reapers amid peaceful woody fields; on old women spinning in cottages; on ships far out in the silent main; on Balls at the Orangerie of Versailles, where high-rouged Dames of the Palace are even now dancing with double-jacketted Hussar-Officers;—and also on this roaring Hell porch of a Hotel-de-Ville! Babel Tower, with the confusion of tongues, were not Bedlam added with the conflagration of thoughts, was no type of it. One forest of distracted steel bristles, endless, in front of an Electoral Committee; points itself, in horrid radii, against this and the other accused breast. It was the Titans warring with Olympus; and they scarcely crediting it, have conquered: prodigy of prodigies; delirious,—as it could not but be. Denunciation, vengeance; blaze of triumph on a dark ground of terror: all outward, all inward things fallen into one general wreck of madness!


11 April 1959

Macaulay's schoolboy

The phrase 'every schoolboy knows …' recurs in many variants in Macaulay's writings.


15 April 1959

'The earliest pipe of half-awakened birdseye'

From Tennyson's 'Tears, Idle Tears':

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds

Reportedly, Tennyson told Harcourt that his morning pipe after breakfast was the best in the day, to which Harcourt responded, 'The earliest pipe of half-awakened bards.' The variant 'The earliest pipe of half-awakened birdseye' appeared in The Oxford Magazine in 1890. (Birdseye is a type of tobacco).

The Miracle

In 1923, the director Max Reinhardt offered Diana Cooper the important role of the Madonna in Karl Vollmöller's mime play The Miracle, in which she made a huge success in America and Europe in the 1920s and 30s.


28 April 1959

the long hairy ears of any jackass

Froude, Life of Carlyle, Ch 5: 

'A long hairy-eared jackass,' as he called some eminent Edinburgh physician.

Southey's Madoc

In fact Porson's remark was about another Southey poem, Thalaba.


4 May 1959

The Bostonians … one of the hard ones?

The Bostonians, published in 1886, is not generally reckoned among James's more intractable texts.

The Upton Letters

Published in 1905, a series of fictional letters supposedly written by an English schoolmaster to an expatriate friend.


Excessive enthusiasm.


13 May 1959

va et vient

Coming and going.

All the letters about Latin

There was a proposal to make Latin an optional rather than, as hitherto, a compulsory subject in the qualifying examinations for entry to Oxford University. The correspondence columns of The Times carried many letters on both sides of the debate during early May 1959.

every woman being at heart a rake

Pope, 'Epistle to a Lady'

Men, some to Bus'ness, some to Pleasure take;
But ev'ry Woman is at heart a Rake:
Men, some to Quiet, some to public Strife;
But ev'ry Lady would be Queen for life.


21 May 1959

like the young lady late for dinner, as recorded by Cherry-Garrard

Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Antarctic 1910—1913:

A young lady was so late that the party sat down to dinner without waiting longer. Soon she arrived covered with blushes and confusion. 'I'm so sorry,' she said, 'but that horse was the limit, he ...' 'Perhaps it was a jibber,' suggested her hostess to help her out. 'No, he was a ****. I heard the cabby tell him so several times.'

old Heythorp's dinner

In Galsworthy's A Stoic.

Mad Margaret in Ruddigore

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Margaret, a reclaimed madwoman, becomes joint head of a National School.

Swinnerton's last novel

A Tigress in Prothero (1959).

the new D.N.B. volume just out

The new volume of the Dictionary of National Biography covered people who had died between 1941 and 1950.

Do you ever contribute?

In the current Oxford DNB (2021) there are articles by RH-D on Jonathan Cape, Peter Fleming, Roger Fulford, Humphry House and Siegfried Sassoon.


Ranjitsinhji, who was not only a great cricketer but also Maharajah of Nawangar.


25 May 1959

Michael Sadleir's article on Hugh Walpole … Harold Nicolson's article on my Uncle Duff

Neither article has survived in the current DNB (now the ODNB), that on Hugh Walpole being by Elizabeth Steele and that on Duff Cooper by Philip Ziegler.

Dulles's death

John Foster Dulles, the US Secretary of State (foreign minister), resigned on health grounds on 15 April and died on 24 May.


27 May 1959

Sir Anthony Absolute

In Sheridan's The Rivals.

Gunther on Inside Russia.

Inside Russia Today (1958), one of a series written by the American journalist John Gunther; the first was Inside Europe (1936) and the last, Inside Australia and New Zealand (1972).


29 May 1959


Etonian jargon for a boys who devote themselves to land-sports—cricket, football, etc.; 'wet-bobs' are the boys who go in for rowing.

scored a bump

The impact of the stem of a boat against the stern or side of another boat in front of it: in boat-racing the making of a 'bump' is the technical proof of one boat's overtaking and beating another. (OED)


The boat that rows in two divisions of the bumping races at Oxford and Cambridge, occupying the last position in a higher division and the first position in a lower division.


Brasenose College.


3 June 1959



more suo

In its (usual) way.

Who the devil is Eisenstein …

The article, 'Artist in Celluloid', was about the Russian film director, Sergei Eisenstein.

But John Carter was good on some egregious Yank professor who seems to have been tampering with Housman's text

In a letter about A E Housman – Complete Poems, Centennial Edition, John Carter listed many alterations made by  Tom Burns Haber, and commented on 'how careful a professor in Ohio needs to be in emending the language of a Westcountryman' and on factual errors in the introduction. (TLS 29 May 1959, p 321.)

te absente

In your absence.


8 June 1959

paralysis agitans

Now more commonly known as Parkinson's disease.


10 June 1959

It may have a certain amount of form and finish and perhaps a fake air of ease, but there is an awful history behind it.

In telling his brother how troublesome he found writing, Housman added that he was referring only to prose because 'poetry is either easy or impossible.'


18 June 1959

Medes and Persians

The laws of the Medes and Persians were unalterable.

McVitie & Price

Bakers founded in 1830 in Edinburgh. Inventors of the digestive biscuit. Despite GWL's scorn their ginger nuts had, and have, their admirers.

shredded marmalade

Possibly Robertson's Golden Shred, an inexpensive brand of marmalade; Cooper's Oxford marmalade is a touchstone of excellence.


29 June 1959

Laus Deo

Praise be to God.

Nelson's sevenpennies

Series of low-priced reprints of classics, initiated in 1907 by John Buchan as chief literary adviser to the publishers Thomas Nelson and Son. A full-priced novel typically cost ten times as much. Using the index of retail prices, the two sums would be £2 and £21 in 2006 prices.


Extensive range of fiction and non-fiction paperbacks, launched by Allen Lane in 1935. The first issues sold for 6d; by 1959 most Penguins cost 2/6 (12½p)—respectively £1.20 and £2 in 2006 terms.

Dogleech Marat

Carlyle dubbed Marat 'dogleech', though Marat had a moderately distinguished career as a physician. (The notes to the 2001 single volume selection of the Letters wrongly state that 'dogleech' was a misquotation; in fact Carlyle used both 'dogleech' and 'horseleech' several times in referring to Marat).


2 July 1959

his father's eulogy of W.G.'s neck

Alfred Lyttelton said of E M Grace, 'the dirtiest neck I ever kept wicket behind.' The Times's version of the story (29 June 1959) erred also in ascribing the story to an uncle of Oliver Lyttelton, rather than his father.

what one of the old Forsytes termed a 'rum-ti-too' lot

Commonplace. The Forsyte Saga. In Chancery: 'At Timothy's':

He [Soames] was feeling more strongly than ever that Timothy's was hopelessly 'rum-ti-too' and the souls of his aunts dismally mid-Victorian.

Galsworthy also used the variant 'rumpty-too' (The Man of Property I. i. 22).

the channel glittered like a blue mantle…

The Nigger of the 'Narcissus', Ch 5.


5 July 1959


The National Society of Operative Printers' Assistants, formed in 1889 as the Printers' Labourers' Union. 


12 July 1959

Lord Birkett

Independent chairman of the talks between the employers and the unions in the printing strike.


19 July 1959


Possibly Lt Col Charles Waley-Cohen (1878—1963), a member of the Légion d'honneur.


23 July 1959

'the older and more splendid university'

If this reference to Oxford is a quotation, as it seems to be, I cannot trace it.

Father-like He tends and spares us.

From the hymn, 'Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven' by H F Lyte (1793—1847)

the train which puffed fifteen miles to Felixstowe, followed by a fire engine

The Times reported on 6 July, 'A passenger train travelling between Ipswich and Felixstowe was followed by three fire engines, and not without good reason, for it started six grass fires on its 12-mile journey.'

the heavens are as brass

Deuteronomy 28:23:

And thy heavens which are over thy head have been brass, and the earth which is under thee iron.

that handful of supple earth and long white stones with sea-water running in its veins

See the following two letters.

'About things on which the public thinks long it commonly attains to think right'

Johnson, on Addison's tragedy, Cato:

Of a work so much read, it is difficult to say any thing new. About things on which the public thinks long, it commonly attains to think right.

The prayers of those who mourned Sir John Moore—'few and short'

Charles Wolfe, 'The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna':

Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow.

unavailing as the tears and sighs of the ungodly

Hymn, 'Great God, what do I see and hear?' by William B Collyer (1782—1854) after a German original of Luther's day:

The ungodly, filled with guilty fears,
behold his wrath prevailing.
In woe they rise, but all their tears
and sighs are unavailing.


3 August 1959

Someone has blundered

Tennyson, 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'

Forward, the Light Brigade!
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd.


6 August 1959

Je le regrette tout les jours; je m'en félicite toutes les nuits

It regret it every day; I welcome it every night.

ad rem

To [the point of] the matter

how good Ivor is in the new D.N.B. on old Agate

Ivor Brown's article remains in the Oxford DNB at 2021, extensively revised by Marc Brodie.


9 August 1959

the new Noel Coward play

Look After Lulu, an adaptation of Feydeau's Occupe-toi d'Amélie

the Marconi scandal

1912 allegations of insider trading in shares in the Marconi company by members of the Liberal government, including Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; Sir Rufus Isaacs, the Attorney General; and Herbert Samuel, Postmaster General. Isaacs's brother was managing director of Marconi.


16 August 1959

the Iliad and the Odyssey weren't written by Homer, but by another man of the same name

The joke pre-dates Maurice Baring. It was reported as a schoolboy howler in English as She is Taught, an American book published in 1887, and was ascribed in another American book, published in 1882 to ‘one of our witty British brethren’. (W. H. McElroy, An Overture to William Tell, p. 9), possibly referring to an unnamed Oxford don reported as making the joke in 1875. (The Shotover Papers, Or, Echoes from Oxford, Volume 1, p. 112)

pari passu

'with equal step'—with equal force.


21 August 1959

on a Tripos standard

Cambridge honours degree standard.

Father Damien and the Stevenson letter

In 1889 a Presbyterian minister, the Rev C M Hyde, wrote disparagingly of the recently-dead 'Apostle to the Lepers', Father Damien. Stevenson wrote an open letter reproaching Hyde for his inaccuracy, uncharity and sectarian malice. Stevenson prophesied that Father Damien would be made a saint; this was done by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

Carlyle's description of Coleridge at Highgate

Coleridge sat on the brow of Highgate Hill, in those years, looking down on London and its smoke-tumult, like a sage escaped from the inanity of life's battle; attracting towards him the thoughts of innumerable brave souls still engaged there. His express contributions to poetry, philosophy, or any specific province of human literature or enlightenment, had been small and sadly intermittent; but he had, especially among young inquiring men, a higher than literary, a kind of prophetic or magician character. He was thought to hold, he alone in England, the key of German and other Transcendentalisms; knew the sublime secret of believing by 'the reason' what 'the understanding' had been obliged to fling out as incredible; and could still, after Hume and Voltaire had done their best and worst with him, profess himself an orthodox Christian, and say and print to the Church of England, with its singular old rubrics and surplices at Allhallowtide, Esto perpetua. A sublime man; who, alone in those dark days, had saved his crown of spiritual manhood; escaping from the black materialisms, and revolutionary deluges, with 'God, Freedom, Immortality' still his: a king of men. The practical intellects of the world did not much heed him, or carelessly reckoned him a metaphysical dreamer: but to the rising spirits of the young generation he had this dusky sublime character; and sat there as a kind of Magus, girt in mystery and enigma; his Dodona oak-grove (Mr Gilman's house at Highgate) whispering strange things, uncertain whether oracles or jargon.

in the Quiller-Couch sense of 'reading'

Quiller-Couch delivered a series of twelve lectures between 1916 and 1918, published in 1920 as On The Art of Reading.


24 August 1959

married another young girl

Shirley, Lady Beecham.

'Chippendale, the cabinet-maker…'

Birrell, Obiter Dicta,' Actors', quoted by Wilde in his 'Stage Memoirs'


27 August 1959

I am like the psalmist, poured out like water.

Psalm 22:14: I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.

Wilson … Froude … Garnett

  • David Alec Wilson's biography of Carlyle, published by Kegan Paul 1923—34 in six volumes.
  • James Anthony Froude's biography in two parts:
  • Thomas Carlyle: A History of the First Forty Years of Life, 1795—1835, (1882)
  • Thomas Carlyle: A History of His Life in London, 1834—1881 (1884).
  • Richard Garnett's Life of Thomas Carlyle (1887).

that Geraldine Jewsbury association

Jane Carlyle's intense friendship with Geraldine Jewsbury has prompted speculation that they were lovers, though no evidence exists to show it.


30 August 1959

ah well, the tide's out here

This line for Mrs Madigan is not in the play, but is an interpolation in Hitchcock's film of Juno and the Paycock.


2 September 1959

who played for England at Edgbaston in 1902

A C MacLaren, C B Fry, K S Ranjitsinhji, F S Jackson, Johnny Tyldesley, Dick Lilley, George Hirst, G L Jessop, Len Braund, Bill Lockwood and Wilfred Rhodes. Hirst and Rhodes bowled Australia out for 36 runs in the first innings—their lowest total in any Test innings, before or since. The tourists were saved by rain, and the match was drawn.

Lamplough's Pyretic Saline

Advertised as 'a safe and reliable antidote to all diseases arising from disordered stomach, indigestion, and liver troubles and may be had of chemists everywhere'. W S Gilbert celebrated it in verse:

There was a far-famed individdle
Who had a bad pain in his middle,
But a gentle emetic
With Lamplough's Pyretic
Soon made him as fit as a fiddle.


A ball that pitches directly underneath the bat.

Old fashioned in 1959: common in the previous century: 'a stupid, dilatory, inactive, and generally amiable young man' (James Redding Ware: Passing English of the Victorian era: a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase (1909) dating the term from 1840).

Reading … biscuits

Huntley and Palmer's biscuit factory in Reading was, in the early 20th century, the largest biscuit factory in the world.

our member is much the stupidest man in the country

Sir James Harwood Harrison.


6 September 1959

Mrs Brooke

Mary Ruth Brooke, mother of Rupert Brooke, appointed Sir Edward Marsh as her dead son's literary executor.

The Aspern Papers

Adaptation of Henry James's story of the same name. Dramatised by and starring Michael Redgrave. The cast also included Beatrix Lehmann and Flora Robson.


9 September 1959

the misquote

Stevenson's original reads 'home from sea'. The Times (9 September) reported that Lord Cobham had offered £50 to have the misquotation on the stone corrected.

that ass among the apostles

All the apostles, according to Matthew 26:8-9; Judas Iscariot according to John 12:5.

per contra

on the other hand.


16 September 1959

ultra vires

Beyond [legal] power—unauthorised.

Hinc illae lacrimae

Hence these tears. (Terence, Andria, line 126).


23 September 1959

Mary Magdalene

John 12:3.

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

The Craft of Letters

The Craft of Letters in England: A Symposium edited by John Lehmann (1956). Mentioned by RH-D in his letter of 15 July 1956.


27 September 1959

a rubbishy book of memoirs

All That I Have Met, London, Cassell and Co, 1929.


1 October 1959


Mediaeval noun of assembly for ducks.

Lucky Jim

Novel by Kingsley Amis, published in 1954. Regarded by many as amusing.


4 October 1959

çi devant


my True Blue vote

Colour adopted by the right-wing Conservative Party.

The Complaisant Lover

Directed by John Gielgud. Other members of the cast were Paul Scofield and Phyllis Calvert. It ran at the Globe (now the Gielgud) theatre from 18 June 1959 to 28 May 1960.


7 October 1959

the chorus of indolent reviewers

Tennyson, Hendecasyllabics:

Oh, you chorus of indolent reviewers,
Irresponsible, indolent reviewers.

Board of Education

The Board of Education was abolished in 1944 and replaced by a Ministry.


15 October 1959


See note for 23 September 1959, above. Possibly Sargent was thinking of Matthew 26, where a similar incident is described, with an unnamed woman who poured 'very precious ointment' on Jesus' head.


22 October 1959

A slightly less momentous one from me

In the Oval Test of 1902 a last-wicket stand between Hirst and Rhodes secured the narrowest of wins for England against Australia. Rhodes, coming in at ninth wicket down, joined Hirst at the crease with 15 runs needed. Hirst was said to have greeted Rhodes, 'We'll get 'em in singles'. A subsequent Times correspondent stated that Rhodes, like Hirst, denied the truth of the old story

In The Times of 21 October, GWL's letter read:

With regard to the famous legendary remark attributed to George Hirst, I think it should be recorded that Hirst, when at Eton, told me in answer to my direct question that he had no recollection whatever of saying to Rhodes: 'We'll get 'em in singles.'
   Mr Walkden may say that this supports his contention in his letter today, and that if I had said 'wuns' instead of singles Hirst would have remembered it.

light such a candle, Master Ridley…

Allusion to Foxe's Book of Martyrs:

Then they brought a faggot, kindled with fire, and laid it down at Dr Ridley's feet. Master Latimer spake to him in this manner: 'Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.'

Tom Richardson at Old Trafford in 1896

Richardson took 13 wickets for 244 runs but the Australians won. Cardus's version of the end of the match is:

His body still shook from the violent motion. He stood there like some fine animal baffled at the uselessness of great strength and effort in this world...A companion led him to the pavilion, and there he fell wearily to a seat.

Cardus was, however, only seven at the time and was not present.

'poor Dorothy'

Allusion not identified. The phrase occurs twice in Austin Dobson's Vignette in Rhyme, 'Dorothy', but his Dorothy is neither physically or mentally lacking as the one whom GWL has in mind evidently is.


25 October 1959

Queen Mum

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.


29 October 1959

Cobden's match

Robert Lyttelton's account of the match was later included in The Oxford Book of English Prose, selected by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.

'saw Shelley plain'

Browning, 'Memorabilia':

Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
And did he stop and speak to you?
And did you speak to him again?
How strange it seems, and new!

Room at the Top 

1957 novel by John Braine, telling the sometimes sordid story of the rise of an ambitious young man of humble origins.

Je ne vois à (dit Poussin) … 

'I do not see,' said Poussin, 'anything but colours confusedly piled up and contained by a multitude of odd lines which form a wall of paint.'


1 November 1959

Patience, with its Oscarian allusions

Patience is about the rivalry of two pretentious aesthetic poets. The player of the poet Bunthorne, George Grossmith, adopted the velvet jacket of Swinburne, the hairstyle and monocle of Whistler, and knee-breeches similar to those worn by Wilde and others. Wilde is often held to be the principal target of Gilbert's satire, but Gilbert specialists discount this.

breaking a few butterflies on the wheel

Alexander Pope, 'Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot': 'Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?'

Bishop of Manchester

William Derrick Lindsay Greer


5 November 1959

These are the times that try men's souls

The opening words of the series of pamphlets The American Crisis, by Thomas Paine, begun in late 1776, fomenting rebellion in the colonies:

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot may, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.'

'fine confused feeding'

Description applied both to a haggis and a sheep's head; author unknown, though sometimes attributed to Dr Johnson without citation. Possibly derived from Latin coena dubia, 'a doubtful dinner'—one so lavish that one does not know what to eat first.


7 November 1959

we petty men

Julius Caesar 1:2

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.


12 November 1959

the food is 'muck'

George Lyttelton had been on the receiving end of such complaints. In the 1930s Simon Phipps (later Bishop of Lincoln 1974—86) was deputed by his classmates to complain to GWL about the declining standard of food in his house. Phipps always remembered his housemaster's look of 'appalled contrition'. (The Daily Telegraph, 22 November 2001).


22 November 1959


Writer to the Signet. A distinction awarded to some senior Scottish lawyers

Go forth upon thy journey

A strikingly familiar valediction comes in Newman's The Dream of Gerontius:

Proficiscere, anima Christiana, de hoc mundo!
Go forth upon thy journey, Christian soul!
Go from this world! Go, in the name of God
The omnipotent Father, who created thee!
Go, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Son of the living God, who bled for thee!
Go, in the name of the Holy Spirit, who
Hath been poured out on thee!

my Dickens book

Dickens Incognito by Felix Aylmer.


25 November 1959

'ails from the prime foundation'

A Shropshire Lad, XLVIII

Ay, look: high heaven and earth ail from the prime foundation;
All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain:
Horror and scorn and hate and fear and indignation—
Oh why did I awake? when shall I sleep again?

all Etonians should copy?

Presumably the question mark is a typographical error.


28 November 1959

Prix Goncourt

French literature prize given to the author of the best and most imaginative prose work of the year ('le meilleur ouvrage d'imagination en prose, paru dans l'année') endowed by the writer Edmond de Goncourt in memory of his brother and collaborator, Jules de Goncourt.

Regent Street after dark

Famous shopping street in central London. The Christmas lights had been switched on on 26 November, attracting large crowds.


10 December 1959

Cholmondeley = Chumley

Respectively, the spelling and the pronunciation of an old English surname.


12 December 1959

story… in the Christmas number of Argosy

'Dig This!' published in the January 1960 issue of Argosy.

'il m'a giflé'

He slapped me.


17 December 1959

'intestine stone or ulcer, colic pangs' or any species of 'wide-wasting pestilence'

Paradise Lost, IX, line 479ff:

A lazar-house it seemed; wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseased; all maladies
Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms
Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds,
Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs,
Intestine stone and ulcer, colic-pangs,
Dæmoniac frenzy, moping melancholy,
And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,
Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence

the right treatment of Mrs Humphry Ward's heroines

Arnold Bennett, 'Mrs Humphry Ward's Heroines' in Books and Persons: Being Comments on a Past Epoch 1908—1911 (1917)

I have invented a destiny for Mrs Humphry Ward's heroines. It is terrible, and just. They ought to be caught, with their lawful male protectors, in the siege of a great city by a foreign army. Their lawful male protectors ought, before sallying forth on a forlorn hope, to provide them with a revolver as a last refuge from a brutal and licentious soldiery. And when things come to a crisis, in order to be concluded in our next, the revolvers ought to prove to be unloaded. I admit that this invention of mine is odious, and quite un-English, and such as would never occur to a right-minded subscriber to Mudie's. But it illustrates the mood caused in me by witnessing the antics of those harrowing dolls.


19 December 1959


Political novel by Disraeli (1844)


Sybil, or The Two Nations: 1845 novel by Disraeli, expounding the plight of the working classes in England.

Trellised with intertwining charities

Lines 16—20:

I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread…)

Those two lines about Mantua

From Chapter 32 of Baring's novel C, published in 1924.


31 December 1959

phossy jaw

Necrosis of the jawbone often accompanied by osteomyelitis, caused by exposure to white phosphorus in workers engaged in making matches. Also called phosphorus necrosis.

Great Expectations

Presumably the 1946 film directed by David Lean, with John Mills as Pip. Mrs Gargery was played by Freda Jackson. No other film of the novel was released between 1946 and 1959.

God in his wisdom made the fly…

Ogden Nash, 'The Fly'

Notes to Volume 5: 1960


4 January 1960


Political novel by Disraeli (1844).


Sybil, or The Two Nations: 1845 novel by Disraeli, expounding the plight of the working classes in England, published in the same year as Engels's The Condition of the Working Class in England.

Reynolds News


Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper was founded by the radical journalist George William MacArthur Reynolds in 1850. It soon became a successful Sunday newspaper, especially in the North of England, with a radical working class approach combined with sensationalism. After various ownerships and titles it ceased publication in 1967, by when it was called The Sunday Citizen.


6 January 1960

Great Expectations

Presumably the 1946 film directed by David Lean, with John Mills as Pip. No other film of the novel was released between 1946 and 1959.

Expresso Bongo

1959 film directed by Val Guest, written by Wolf Mankowitz, music by Robert Farnon, a satire of the popular music industry.

The Owl of Minerva

RH-D published an English translation (by Norman Denny) of Gustav Regler's autobiography in 1959. It ran to 375 pages.

all his novels

Trollope wrote forty-seven novels.

the Ancient of Days

A scriptural allusion to God; cf. Daniel 7:9.

the wolf month

The Saxon name for January was Wulf-monath (wolf month): 'people are wont always in that month to be in more danger of being devoured by wolves than in any other.' (Verstegan)

verb sap

Abbreviation of verbum sapienti sat est—a word is enough to a wise person.


9 January 1960

Christ Church gaudy

From Latin gaudium—joy: a college feast.

the huge hanging Epstein

The original plaster model of Epstein's last work, 'Christ in Majesty', was displayed in the north transept of St Paul's for the memorial service to the sculptor in November 1959, and remained there temporarily afterwards. It was 16½ feet high.


14 January 1960

walking delicately, like Agag

1 Samuel 15:32: 'And Agag came unto him delicately'.

can Spring etc

Shelley, 'Ode to the West Wind'.

Hamlet, Revenge … Stop Press

Published in 1937 and 1939 respectively.

A cow is a very good animal…

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1771 section). Correctly, 'in the field'.

Danny Kaye

Kaye's new film on current release was The Five Pennies.

'Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings' etc

Matthew 21:16:

And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

'Fatherlike He tends and spares us!'

From the hymn, 'Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven' by H F Lyte (1793-1847).

Lady Angina Pectoris and Sir Rheumatoid Arthritis

'What a loss to the Stock Exchange is Sir Rheumatoid Arthritis, and is Lady Angina Pectoris to Mayfair.'  Walter de la Mare in The National and English Review, Volumes 146-147 (1956), p 164.

Evening Standard … Daily Express

Newspapers owned by Lord Beaverbrook, the former a London local evening paper, the latter a right-wing, middle-market national.


16 January 1960


Term coined by Ian Nairn in The Architectural Review in 1955:

There will be no real distinction between town and country. Both will consist of a limbo of shacks, bogus rusticities, wire and aerodromes, set in some fir-poled fields... Upon this new Britain the Review bestows a name in the hope that it will stick.

Lament for a Maker and The Journeying Boy

Published in 1938 and 1949 respectively.


21 January 1960

'John Peel'

Nineteenth century hunting song, with words by John Woodcock Graves; it begins:

D'ye ken John Peel with his coat so gay?
D'ye ken John Peel at the break o' day?
D'ye ken John Peel when he's far, far away.
With his hounds and his horn in the morning?

Naunton Prince

Humphrey Lyttelton later wrote:

…when the muscle-bound champion collapsed and died, my father was much affected. He cut out the photograph that appeared in the horse's obituary in the newspaper and framed it, keeping it on his study mantelpiece until the day he died.
(Introduction to GWL's Commonplace Book, published 2002.)

The Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge and Other Essays on Education (1959). A collection of twelve essays and addresses dating from 1930 to 1959. The rainbow bridge of the title comes from Norse mythology: it carried the deserving from earth to heaven.

the dead vast and middle of the winter

Hamlet 1:2: 'In the dead vast and middle of the night'.

Biscay Harbourages…

  • Biscay Harbours and Anchorages, Volume 1: Brest To Lorient Including Ile De Groix, and Volume 2, Lorient To La Rochelle by K Adlard Coles
  • Hors d'oeuvre and Cold Table—A Book of Tried and Trusted Recipes and Methods, by William Heptinstal; foreword by André Simon
  • A Concise Textbook for Midwives by D G Wilson Clyne
  • Asparagus by Alfred W Kidner
  • Your Poodle and Mine by Stanley Dangerfield
  • The Grocery volume remains incognito.

If I pick up a skein and find it packthread, I do not expect on going further to find it silk

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1769 section):

But when I take up the end of a web, and find it packthread, I do not expect, by looking further, to find embroidery.

Carlyle's perfect picture of C.

Carlyle, The Life of John Sterling (1851) Ch 8:

Coleridge sat on the brow of Highgate Hill, in those years, looking down on London and its smoke-tumult, like a sage escaped from the inanity of life's battle; attracting towards him the thoughts of innumerable brave souls still engaged there. His express contributions to poetry, philosophy, or any specific province of human literature or enlightenment, had been small and sadly intermittent; but he had, especially among young inquiring men, a higher than literary, a kind of prophetic or magician character. He was thought to hold, he alone in England, the key of German and other Transcendentalisms; knew the sublime secret of believing by 'the reason' what 'the understanding' had been obliged to fling out as incredible; and could still, after Hume and Voltaire had done their best and worst with him, profess himself an orthodox Christian, and say and print to the Church of England, with its singular old rubrics and surplices at Allhallowtide, Esto perpetua. A sublime man; who, alone in those dark days, had saved his crown of spiritual manhood; escaping from the black materialisms, and revolutionary deluges, with 'God, Freedom, Immortality' still his: a king of men. The practical intellects of the world did not much heed him, or carelessly reckoned him a metaphysical dreamer: but to the rising spirits of the young generation he had this dusky sublime character; and sat there as a kind of Magus, girt in mystery and enigma; his Dodona oak-grove (Mr Gilman's house at Highgate) whispering strange things, uncertain whether oracles or jargon.

Glorious islets too I have seen rise out of the haze…

'Glorious islets, too, I have seen rise out of the haze; but they were few, and soon swallowed in the general element again. Balmy sunny islets, islets of the blest and the intelligible.'


23 January 1960

The production wasn't frightfully good…

Directed by Michael Benthall; the cast included Alec McCowen as Algernon, Barbara Jefford as Gwendolen, Judi Dench as Cecily, and Miles Malleson as Canon Chasuble.


In Congreve's The Way of the World.

her Cleopatra

Edith Evans played Cleopatra in three productions between 1925 and (aetat 59) 1947. The Manchester Guardian (3 December 1946) and The Times (21 December) gave her performance excellent notices; The Observer inclined to RH-D's view.

I see Diana's baby is safely christened, with Roger at the font

John Samuel Hood, christened at Chelsea Old Church on 21 January. Roger Fulford was one of five godparents


28 January 1960

he quotes it in Trivia and adds 'By jove, that's a stunt!'

Not in Trivia (1917) but in All Trivia (1933), p 81

reason to lament what man has made of man?

Wordsworth, 'Lines Written in Early Spring':

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?


30 January 1960

the film of Our Man in Havana

Carol Reed's film of Greene's novel, starring Alec Guinness, Noel Coward and Ralph Richardson.

A Moon for the Misbegotten

Directed by Clifford Williams, with Margaret Whiting and Michael Aldridge in the leading roles.

five guineas

The first edition (June 1962) was priced at four guineas, equivalent of more than £60 at current values. The 2000 revised and expanded edition was priced at £35.

water, water everywhere

Coleridge, 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner':

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink


4 February 1960

The Turn of the Screw

Short story by Henry James in which malevolent ghosts prey (or are imagined to prey) on two children.


Habakkuk 1:5

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

capable de tout

Capable of anything


6 February 1960

bien entendu

Of course

The Egoist

Tragicomic novel by George Meredith (1879).


11 February 1960

Where, so to speak, was Bohun?

RH-D's footnote refers to Shaw's You Never Can Tell, Act IV, but I think a more likely source is Lord Chief Justice Crewe's observation on mutability (1625):

And yet Time hath his revolutions. There must be a period and an end of all temporal things, finis rerum, an end of names and dignities and whatsoever is terrene; and why not of De Vere? For where is Bohun; where is Mowbray; where is Mortimer; nay, which is more and most of all, where is Plantagenet? They are entombed in the urns and sepulchres of mortality.

Anatomy of a Murder

1959 courtroom drama, directed by Otto Preminger and written by Wendell Mayes. It starred James Stewart, George C Scott, Lee Remick and Ben Gazzara.

Queen newspaper

Magazine first published in 1862; merged with Harper's Bazaar in 1970.

Tranby Croft baccarat

Legal action (1891) in which the Prince of Wales was involved. The question was whether Sir William Gordon-Cumming had or had not cheated at baccarat.


14 February 1960

Foyle's Literary Lunch

Foyle's was, and is, a large bookshop in Charing Cross Road, London. In 1930 Christina Foyle (1911-1999) instituted a monthly lunch so that the book-buying public could mingle with writers. The lunches were held at the Dorchester and Grosvenor House hotels; as well as J B Priestley speakers included Kingsley Amis, Charles Chaplin, Charles de Gaulle, Philip Larkin, D H Lawrence, Harold Macmillan, Yehudi Menuhin, Haile Selassie, George Bernard Shaw, Edith Sitwell, Margaret Thatcher, Evelyn Waugh, and H G Wells.


18 February 1960

keeping your friendships in repair

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1755 section)

'If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.'

The first batch of your old letters

This is the first mention in the published correspondence of GWL's returning RH-D's earlier letters. No explanation is given.

time's hurrying footsteps

Title of a poem by Dorothy Una Ratcliffe, published in the collection Over Hill, Over Dale (1956). I doubt if this was GWL's source, but I can find no other candidate.

the surly advance of decrepitude

Winston Churchill:

Painting is a friend who makes no undue demands, excites no exhausting pursuits, keeps faithful pace with feeble steps, and holds her canvas as a screen between us and the envious eyes of Time and the surly advance of decrepitude.

the enclitic δέ

In ancient Greek, τε ('and') and δέ ('but') could be tacked on to the end of other words, cfque in Latin.

Who was the scholar of Milton's day who was for some reason cut open after death, and his tummy was found to be half full of sand?

Lytton Strachey, New Republic, 26 December 1923, Vol. 37, Issue 473, p 115:

In the early years of the eighteenth century the life of learning was agitated, violent, and full of extremes. ... One sat, bent nearly double, surrounded by four circles of folios, living to edit Hesychius and confound Dr. Hody, and dying at the last with a stomach half full of sand.

whatever his paper was

In 1912 Bentley joined The Daily Telegraph, with which he remained for twenty-two years.

me judice

'I being judge'—in my opinion. (Ablative first person singular pronoun + ablative of iudex.)


20 February 1960

Don't come flying out of your chair like that, Mr Venus…

Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, Ch 7.


25 February 1960

dolce far niente

Sweet idleness.

a man is not on oath in an obituary

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1775 section)
In lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath.

old Kaspar

Southey, The Battle of Blenheim

It was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar's work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun.

Meet we no angels, Pansie

Thomas Ashe:

Came, on a Sabbath noon, my sweet,
In white, to find her lover;
The grass grew proud beneath her feet,
The green elm-leaves above her:—
Meet we no angels, Pansie?

John Thomas … D H Lawrence

John Thomas is Mellors's name for his membrum virile in Lady Chatterley's Lover.


27 February 1960

Oh Chairman, my Chairman, The fearful task is done!

Walt Whitman, 'O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done'

Jack Simmons (or perhaps Simmonds)

Simmons is the correct form.


2 March 1960


Gushing enthusiasm

annotations of startling indecency (blasphemy)

'There were several books on a shelf; one lay beside the tea-things open, and Utterson was amazed to find it a copy of a pious work, for which Jekyll had several times expressed a great esteem, annotated, in his own hand, with startling blasphemies.'

Professor Moriarty

Sherlock Holmes's frequent adversary; despite Moriarty's best endeavours Holmes remains alive and finally Moriarty is killed.

M. Arnold's chil­blained mittened musing

From Edith Sitwell, Alexander Pope (1930) 'Aberdeen granite tomb … with his chilblained, mittened musings'.


5 March 1960

wear my rue with a difference

Hamlet, 4:5:

Ophelia: There's fennel for you, and columbines; there's rue for you; and here's some for me; we may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. O! you must wear your rue with a difference.


10 March 1960

It was some ass of a saint who said that one of the chief pleasures of the saved would be watching the torments of the damned. But all the time?

Tertullian, De Spectaculis:

The greatest joy of Heaven is in watching the torments of the damned in Hell—a spectacle far more pleasing than any upon Earth.

(Tertullian (c. 160-225) was one of the 'fathers of the Church' but later joined the Montanists, a heretical sect, and so was never canonised)

the St Joan Epilogue

Set twenty five years after the events of the play; the characters appear to Charles VII in a dreamlike conversation.


12 March 1960



new life of Conrad by Jocelyn Baines

Joseph Conrad: A Critical Biography (1960)


17 March 1960

It isn't the pathetic that moves us…

Cocteau, A Call to Order (tr. Myers, 1936):

It is not pathetic messages that make us shed our best tears, but the miracle of a word in the right place.

great Panjandrum with the little round button at top

'From a rigmarole composed by Samuel Foote (1720-1777)' noted RH-D. It is so singular that it is here quoted in full:

So she went into the garden
to cut a cabbage-leaf
to make an apple-pie;
and at the same time
a great she-bear, coming down the street,
pops its head into the shop.
What! no soap?
So he died,
and she very imprudently married the Barber:
and there were present
the Picninnies,
and the Joblillies,
and the Garyulies,
and the great Panjandrum himself,
with the little round button at top;
and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can,
till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots
Composed in 1755 to test the memory of the actor Charles Macklin, who had claimed he could read any paragraph once through and then recite it verbatim.

The ring­leader, Casey, nicknamed 'Skin-the-goat'…

There are several problems with this paragraph:

  • The conspirator nicknamed 'Skin-the-goat' was called Fitzharris, and was not hanged. Those hanged for the murders were Joseph Bradey, Thomas Caffrey, Daniel Curley, Michael Fagan and Timothy Kelly.
  • There was no conspirator called Casey: James Carey was a leading member of the gang but turned Queen's evidence, went free, and was later murdered in revenge by a Fenian.
  • Sir George Otto Trevelyan's Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay was published in 1876, before the Phoenix Park murders were committed.

the new book on Kipling

Probably Rudyard Kipling by Rosemary Sutcliff.


19 March 1960

'whose dwelling is the light of setting suns'

Wordsworth, 'Tintern Abbey':

A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.

Oscar's grandson

Merlin Holland (1945–). In 2000 he was responsible for a new and expanded edition of RH-D's volume of Oscar Wilde's letters.

The Bishop of Oxford

Harry James Carpenter (1901-1993), Bishop of Oxford 1955-1970.

Two Way Stretch

Comedy directed by Robert Day. The cast included Peter Sellers, David Lodge, Bernard Cribbins, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Lionel Jeffries, Irene Handl and Liz Fraser.


23 March 1960

'fountain of sweet tears', or dancing with daffodils

Both Wordsworthian allusions: 'The Sparrow's Nest' and 'Daffodils'.

Dr Battie whose impersonation of Punch made an ill boy laugh so much…

John Doran, The History of Court Fools (1858):

But Battie could play the fool, even to better purpose by the sick bed, than the buffoon at his club. It is told of him that he had a young male patient whom obstinate quinsy threatened with almost instant suffocation. Battie had tried every remedy but his foolery, and at last he had recourse to that. Setting his wig wrong side before, twisting his face into a compound comic expression, and darting his head suddenly within the curtains, he cut such antics, poured forth such delicious folly, and was altogether so irresistible, that his patient, after gazing at him for a moment in stupefaction, burst into a fit of laughter which broke the imposthume, and rescued the sufferer from impending death.

Battle of the Sexes

Directed by Charles Crichton, based on James Thurber's story 'The Catbird Seat'. Starring Peter Sellers, Constance Cummings and Robert Morley.

Calcutta Cup

Rugby Union trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Six Nations Championship match between England and Scotland.


Eton bookseller


26 March 1960

I'm All Right, Jack

Comedy about industrial relations, directed by John Boulting, starring Ian Carmichael and Peter Sellers.

Commonwealth Fellowship

Scheme for international study and professional development, introduced in 1959.


30 March 1960

John Keats who … wrote that when a great mis­fortune came to a man he felt inclined to congratulate him…

Letter to Benjamin Bailey, 22 November 1817:

The first thing that strikes me on hearing a misfortune having befallen another is this—'Well, it cannot be helped: he will have the pleasure of trying the resources of his spirit.'


2 April 1960

a frightful book about the Wolverhampton Wanderers football club.

All For the Wolves (1960), nominally by Stanley Cullis, manager of the club, 1948-68. Wolverhampton Wanderers won the 1960 F A Cup and were runners-up to Burnley in the 1959/60 League Championship.


6 April 1960

Croker took with his edition of Boswell

Macaulay's review of John Croker's new edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson appeared in September 1831 and begins:

This work has greatly disappointed us. Whatever faults we may have been prepared to find in it, we fully expected that it would be a valuable addition to English literature; that it would contain many curious facts, and many judicious remarks; that the style of the notes would be neat, clear, and precise; and that the typographical execution would be, as in new editions of classical works it ought to be, almost faultless. We are sorry to be obliged to say that the merits of Mr Croker's performance are on a par with those of a certain leg of mutton on which Dr Johnson dined, while travelling from London to Oxford, and which he, with characteristic energy, pronounced to be 'as bad as bad could be, ill fed, ill killed, ill kept, and ill dressed.' This edition is ill compiled, ill arranged, ill written, and ill printed.

Nothing in the work has astonished us so much as the ignorance or carelessness of Mr Croker with respect to facts and dates. Many of his blunders are such as we should be surprised to hear any well educated gentleman commit, even in conversation. The tomes absolutely swarm with misstatements into which the editor never would have fallen, if he had taken the slightest pains to investigate the truth of his assertions, or if he had even been well acquainted with the book on which he undertook to comment.

That Macaulay was not wholly unfair to Croker is illustrated by George Birkbeck Hill in his preface to his 1887 edition of Boswell:

I should be wanting in justice were I not to acknowledge that I owe much to the labours of Mr Croker. No one can know better than I do his great failings as an editor. His remarks and criticisms far too often deserve the contempt that Macaulay so liberally poured on them. Without being deeply versed in books, he was shallow in himself. Johnson's strong character was never known to him. Its breadth and length, and depth and height were far beyond his measure. With his writings even he shows few signs of being familiar. Boswell's genius, a genius which even to Lord Macaulay was foolishness, was altogether hidden from his dull eye. No one surely but a 'blockhead,' a 'barren rascal,' could with scissors and paste-pot have mangled the biography which of all others is the delight and the boast of the English-speaking world. He is careless in small matters, and his blunders are numerous…Yet he has added considerably to our knowledge of Johnson. He knew men who had intimately known both the hero and his biographer, and he gathered much that but for his care would have been lost for ever. He was diligent and successful in his search after Johnson's letters, of so many of which Boswell with all his persevering and pushing diligence had not been able to get a sight.

Gladstone on Ireland, and Dizzy on the Franchise

Neither Gladstone's measures in pursuance of his 'mission to pacify Ireland' nor Disraeli's reforms entitling far more men to vote than before were consistent with Carlyle's recorded views.

a diseased rosebud

Letter to Jack Carlyle, 24 July 1840.

a strange, lilting, lean old maid, not nearly such a bore as I expected

Letter to Jack Carlyle, 8 October 1846.

the portrait of an idiot who has taken glauber salts and lost his eyesight

Letter to his mother, 12 April 1851 (correctly '…that has taken…'). Glauber's salt—sodium sulphate—is a bitter tasting laxative.

delirious-looking mountebank…

Carlyle's opinion of G F Watts's portrait of him, now in the National Portrait Gallery: 'decidedly the most insufferable picture that has yet been made of me, a delirious looking mountebank full of violence, awkwardness, atrocity and stupidity.'

like a flayed horse

Letter to John Sterling, 4 August 1841.

with its stupid classic Acropolis and smashed pillars

Letter dated 12 October 1899.


Autobiographical novel by the painter John Bratby.


13 April 1960

Jan Crace … The Times … so far nothing has appeared

The obituary notice by GWL was published on 18 April, eleven days after the subject's death.


20 April 1960

waste their sweetness on the desert air

Thomas Gray, 'Elegy in a Country Churchyard' Stanza 14:

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

minced collops, fricassee of fowl, ham and tongue, haddocks, herrings, frothed milk, bread pudding, and syllabubs made with port wine.

Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, entry for 6 September 1773:

We had for supper a large dish of minced beef collops, a large dish of fricassee of fowl, I believe a dish called fried chicken or something like it, a dish of ham or tongue, some excellent haddocks, some herrings, a large bowl of rich milk frothed, as good a bread pudding as I ever tasted, full of raisins and lemon or orange peel, and sillabubs made with port wine and in sillabub glasses.


23 April 1960

wear their white for Eastertide


Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.


30 April 1960

Passage to India

Dramatisation of E M Forster's novel by Santha Rama Rau, directed by Frank Hauser. Dr Aziz was played by Zia Mohyeddin.


4 May 1960

those dogs that after closely scrutinising the parts of shame…

Frederick the Great, XVI:

Thus, too, you will observe of dogs: two dogs, at meeting, run, first of all, to the shameful parts of the constitution; institute a strict examination, more or less satisfactory, in that department. That once settled, their interest in ulterior matters seems pretty much to die away, and they are ready to part again, as from a problem done.
Carlyle attributes the words to Diogenes.


Shelley's elegy on the death of Keats.

'Kubla Khan' as if it was Kennedy's gender-rules

Coleridge's poem as opposed to Benjamin Hall Kennedy's 'gender rhymes', mnemonics for students of Latin, e.g:

Substantives in do and go
Genus Femininum show.
But ligo, ordo, praedo, cardo,
Are Mascula; and Common margo.

the Cassius passage … 'controversy'

Julius Caesar 1:2:

The torrent roar'd, and we did buffet it
With lusty sinews, throwing it aside
And stemming it with hearts of controversy


7 May 1960

cold boiled veal

Macaulay on Croker:

See whether I do not dust that lying varlet's jacket for him in the next number of the Blue and Yellow [The Edinburgh Review]. I detest him more than cold boiled veal.

a musical version of The Importance        

Ernest In Love: music by Lee Pockriss, book and lyrics by Anne Croswell. Presented at the Gramercy Arts Theater, New York, 4 May 1960, and ran for 111 performances.


11 May 1960

whatever a sandboy may be

Sandboys were sellers of sand (for scouring etc). A writer in Appleton's Journal in 1872 remarked that the saying presumably arose because 'as sand-boys follow a very dry and dusty trade, they are traditionally believed to require a great deal of liquor to moisten their clay'.

Della Crusca or Dada

Schools of writing, the first of pretentious and rhetorically ornate poetry, the second of anarchic opposition to traditional culture.

the countless rumours about and against the poor young photographer

The rumours, not substantiated, were to the effect that the bridegroom's past life had not been uniformly heterosexual.

By those who look close to the ground dirt will be seen

Hesther Lynch Piozzi, Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson:

'By those who look close to the ground, dirt will be seen, sir,' was the lofty reply. 'I hope I see things from a greater distance.'


relief, consolation

King Mark found Tristan

In Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde.

the Oscar film in which J. Mason appears as Carson

The Trials of Oscar Wilde. See note for 5 June, below.


18 May 1960

the new life of Charles Kingsley.

R B Martin, The Dust of Combat: A Life of Charles Kingsley (1960)

Madam if I had thought so, I certainly should not have said so'.

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1781 section):

Miss Monckton … insisted that some of Sterne's writings were very pathetick. Johnson bluntly denied it. 'I am sure (said she,) they have affected me.' 'Why, (said Johnson, smiling, and rolling himself about,) that is, because, dearest, you're a dunce.' When she some time afterwards mentioned this to him, he said with equal truth and politeness; 'Madam, if I had thought so, I certainly should not have said it.'

Boswell … the mathematics lecturer

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1776 section):

I mentioned Mr Maclaurin's uneasiness on account of a degree of ridicule carelessly thrown on his deceased father, in Goldsmith's History of Animated Nature, in which that celebrated mathematician is represented as being subject to fits of yawning so violent as to render him incapable of proceeding in his lecture; a story altogether unfounded.

Goldsmith's version was:

Maclaurin was very subject to have his jaw dislocated; so that when he opened his mouth wider than ordinary, or when he yawned, he could not shut it again. In the midst of his harangues, therefore, if any of his pupils began to be tired of his lecture, he had only to gape or yawn, and the professor instantly caught the sympathetic affection; so that he thus continued to stand speechless, with his mouth wide open, till his servant, from the next room, was called in to set his jaw again.'

Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse

Everything passes, everything breaks, everything wears out.


22 May 1960


A C Swinburne

'in the bill'

On the list of boys to be disciplined.

the American editor

Cecil Y Lang, whose six volume edition of Swinburne's letters appeared in 1959 and 1960.


25 May 1960

Pawn-power in Chess…

  • Pawn-power in Chess by Hans Kmoch (translated from Die Kunst der Bauernführung), 1959.
  • British Monetary Experiments 1650-1710 by J Keith Horsefield, Harvard University Press, 1960
  • Public Enterprise in Sweden, by Douglas D Verney, Liverpool University Press, 1959
  • Theoretical Elasticity by A E Green & W Zerna, Oxford University Press, 1954.

Despite GWL's scorn at least two of these (the first and last) were still in print in 2019.


30 May 1960

biblia abiblia

'Books that are not books'—not real books.


1 June 1960

Only yesterday three judges stigmatised the Daily Express and Daily Mail…

The Court of Appeal characterised both papers as 'vulgar and offensive' in their behaviour.


5 June 1960

'the real right thing'

Title of an 1899 short story by James.

Robert Morley Wilde film … the other film

The two films about Wilde that came out at the same time were:

  • Oscar Wilde (1960) based on a play by Leslie Stokes. Directed by Gregory Ratoff with Robert Morley as Wilde, Phyllis Calvert as Constance Wilde, Ralph Richardson as Sir Edward Carson, Edward Chapman as the Marquess of Queensberry and John Neville as Bosie.
  • The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) based on a play by John Furnell. Directed by Ken Hughes, with Peter Finch as Wilde, Yvonne Mitchell as Constance, James Mason as Carson, Lionel Jeffries as Queensberry and John Fraser as Bosie.

Saintsbury's advice in preferring Madeira to port or sherry

George Saintsbury, Notes on a Cellar Book: 'I know of no other wine of its class that can beat Madeira when at its best.'

shades of the prison-house

Wordsworth, 'Intimations of Immortality':

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy.

G.K.C. (was it?) wrote 'If you want to keep your dislike of someone alive be careful not to meet him'

Possibly Chesterton's Robert Browning, Ch 5: 'We all have a dark feeling of resistance towards people we have never met'.


16 June 1960

his old thrawn fellow-countryman

Thomas Carlyle

idly melodious, as bird on bough

Carlyle, Reminiscences:

Leigh Hunt, who lived close by, and delighted to sit talking with us (free, cheery, idly melodious as bird on bough).


18 June 1960

I'm still on Jeffrey, with Jane to come

Francis Jeffrey (1773-1850), subject of one of the sections of Carlyle's Reminiscences.


22 June 1960

Rowley Bristowe

Correctly Bristow

Jeeves…no. 9 in hats

The Code of the Woosters, Ch 12

'You stand alone, Jeeves. What size hat do you take?'
'A number eight, sir'
'I should have thought larger. Eleven or twelve.'

the Bennett-Wells letters

Arnold Bennett and H G Wells: A Record of a Personal and a Literary Friendship, edited by Harris Wilson (1960)

that strikingly good play, revue, fantasy, pageant? of his somehow connected with Shrewsbury?

Paul Dehn's masque Call-Over was staged to mark the quatercentenary of Shrewsbury School in 1952.

a knot of little misses

Hesther Lynch Piozzi: Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson:

'One can scarcely help wishing, while one fondles a baby, that it may never live to become a man; for it is so probable that when he becomes a man, he should be sure to end in a scoundrel.' Girls were less displeasing to him; 'for as their temptations were fewer,' he said, 'their virtue in this life, and happiness in the next, were less improbable; and he loved,' he said, 'to see a knot of little misses dearly.'


26 June 1960

The Chocolate Soldier

1908 operetta based on Shaw's Arms and the Man; music by Oscar Straus; libretto by Rudolf Bernauer and Leopold Jacobson; English translation by Stanislaus Stange.

My Fair Lady

1956 musical based on Shaw's Pygmalion; book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner; music by Frederick Loewe.


29 June 1960


Companion of Honour. The Order of the Companions of Honour was founded by George V in 1917 to recognise outstanding achievements in the arts, science, politics, industry or religion. The order is limited to 65 members. It is less prestigious than the Order of Merit but is a more distinguished honour than that of Knight Bachelor.

Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1776 section)

'no cakes or ale nor nothing pleasant'.

cf Sir Toby's Belch's, 'Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?' (Twelfth Night 2:3) but I cannot trace the variant quoted by GWL.

the Jepson story

The Laughing Fish

Corpus delictus

Correctly, corpus delicti ('body of crime')—the principle that before anyone can be convicted of committing a crime, it must be demonstrated that a crime has been committed.

Do coalmine disasters always hit you in the wind?

45 miners were killed in an explosion at Six Bells colliery near Abertillery in Wales on 28 June.


2 July 1960

in the shadow of the Atomic Pile

The nuclear power station now called Sellafield (previously Windscale and Calder Hall)


5 July 1960

The Ladies' Plate

The Ladies' Challenge Plate, rowing event at Henley Royal Regatta. Despite its name it is not for ladies, but for crews from academic institutions. In 1960, Eton College beat Jesus College, Cambridge in the final.


Edward VII was nicknamed 'Tum-Tum' because of his corpulence.

the anfractuosities of the human mind

Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1780 section:

Among the anfractuosities of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture.
('Anfractuosities' means 'intricacies' or 'convolutions')


9 July 1960

the new Michael Innes

The New Sonia Wayward (1960)

Tony Powell's latest

Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (1960)

the Peter Quennell book

The Sign of the Fish—a 'literary autobiography' discussing writers and their writings of the previous 30 years.

the Belgian Congo

Later known as Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zaire, and then again Democratic Republic of the Congo; scene of persistent civil strife and bloodshed since independence in 1960.


14 July 1960

'Ate by his side'

Gr. ἄτη: 'ruin, folly, delusion' personified as goddess of mischief and author of rash destructive deeds.


16 July 1960


By Terence Rattigan, directed by Glen Byam Shaw. It ran at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket from 12 May 1960 to 10 March 1962.


19 July 1960

The late Rev. P.A. Donaldson

Recte S A Donaldson—see biographies.

sow with the whole sack

According to Plutarch (De gloria Atheniensium), the poet Corinna advised the young Pindar to exercise restraint in his poems: 'One should sow with the hand, not with the whole sack.'

the John's people

St John's College, Cambridge, where Hulme read mathematics;

…the supposition that we still have the power of ingratiating ourselves with the fair sex.

Quoted in The European Magazine and London Review (January 1785) 'Johnsoniana'.


24 July 1960

Diana Campbell-Gray

Correctly, Campbell-Grey.

The Taming of the Shrew

Directed by John Barton. Peter O'Toole played Petruchio to Dame Peggy's Katharina.

the Warburg Institute

Part of the University of London, whose purpose is to further the study those elements of European thought, literature, art and institutions that derive from the ancient world.


27 July 1960

I remember Cardus was on the mat

Cardus ventured to point out to Scott that 'from whence' was used by respected writers including Fielding. Scott replied, 'Mr Fielding would not use it twice in my paper.' (Neville Cardus, Autobiography, Hamish Hamilton, 1984 (orig. Collins, 1947) pp 112-113.)

Then I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help

Psalm 121:1. ('From whence' occurs in 24 other places in the Authorised Version, and 38 times in Shakespeare.)


30 July 1960

one of the joint heads of the Treasury

The joint heads of H M Treasury in 1960 were Sir Norman Brook and Sir Frank Lee. RH-D earlier (24 February 1957) described the former as 'a very nice man'.


Referring to an Eton boy who has not been awarded 'colours' for sporting achievement


3 August 1960

The Yellow Book

Quarterly literary periodical of the 1890s associated with aestheticism and decadence.

William Hickey

The gossip column of The Daily Express was known as the William Hickey column.

quam celerrime

As quickly as possible.


10 August 1960

Yet another book…

Maude M Hawkins, A E Housman: Man behind a Mask (1958).

Moderates… Littlego

Moderations: the first public examination taken in certain faculties of the University of Oxford for the degree of BA.

Little-go: the popular name (later superseded at Oxford by 'smalls') for the first examination for the degree of BA, officially called 'Responsions' at Oxford and 'The Previous Examination' at Cambridge (discontinued in the 20th century).

It surely is not easy to be much wronger than that

A 1988 book about Housman said of Maude Hawkins, 'not only her general ignorance of the field but her almost supernatural inaccuracy stand in the way of success' (P G Naiditch, A E Housman at University College London p 28).

a sour leader in The Times

The leader began, 'The feeble failure of Oxford to resolve its notorious road problem would be merely ludicrous if it were not so serious', and talked of 'municipal myopia' and 'academic conspiratorial pedantry'.


13 August 1960

sale of Max's books etc

There were 383 items sold, at a total of £26,654. 'There were some remarkable prices paid,' reported The Times, 'not so much for books embellished in the author's own hand with examples of his own barbed stiletto wit, as for drafts and notes for uncompleted works or for the original drafts of those published.'

Merton … Max Room

Merton College, Oxford. Two rooms next to the college library are devoted to Beerbohm. Several of his cartoons of late 19th-century celebrities are on display.

was the splendid library of C.H. Wilkinson

The sale realised £33,737.

How many million words have we by now exchanged?

The published correspondence, edited and cut to an unknown degree by RH-D, amounts to a little under 350,000 words by this point.

Dorothy Tutin

Troilus and Cressida was directed by Peter Hall and John Barton. Denholm Elliott was Troilus, Max Adrian, Pandarus, Eric Porter, Ulysses, and Peter O'Toole, Thersites.


24 August 1960

'the nubbly bits'               

Galsworthy, The Silver Spoon, Chapter 8.

peace perfect peace, with loved ones far away

From the hymn 'Peace, Perfect Peace', words by the Rt Rev Edward Henry Bickersteth:

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they.


29 August 1960

eine der belebtesten Londoner Vorortstationen

one of the busiest London suburban stations.


30-31 August 1960

Abraham and Dives

Luke Ch 19, in which the poor man, Lazarus, goes to Abraham's bosom in heaven and the rich man, Dives, goes to hell.

My attitude to the daily paper is almost Balfourian.

Balfour's view, apropos of Churchill's extensive collection of press cuttings, was that reading the newspapers was like 'rummaging through a rubbish heap on the problematical chance of finding a cigar.'   William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 (1984), p 375

a young English girl getting a bronze medal for swimming

At the Olympic Games in Rome, Miss A Lonsborough won a gold medal for the 220 metres breaststroke, and Miss E Ferris won bronze in the springboard diving.


Lit. re-fishing: the practice of balancing the results of heats to ensure the fairest result, so that, e.g., the runner-up of one heat who had performed better than the winner of another heat would go forward to the next stage.

C. K. Ogden

Inventor and propagator of Basic English, an auxiliary international language of 850 words intended to cover everything necessary for day-to-day purposes.

much the same as those of Sin when she first saw her offspring Death

Paradise Lost, Book 2:

At last this odious offspring whom thou seest
Thine own begotten, breaking violent way
Tore through my entrails, that with fear and pain
Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
Transform'd: but he my inbred enemie
Forth issu'd, brandishing his fatal Dart
Made to destroy: I fled, and cry'd out Death;
Hell trembl'd at the hideous Name, and sigh'd
From all her Caves, and back resounded Death.

It cries to Heaven, as the butler said about what was in Dr Jekyll's room.

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), VIII: 'The Last Night':

'Changed? Well, yes, I think so,' said the butler. 'Have I been twenty years in this man's house, to be deceived about his voice? No, sir; master's made away with; he was made, away with eight days ago, when we heard him cry out upon the name of God; and who's in there instead of him, and why it stays there, is a thing that cries to Heaven, Mr Utterson!'

Leaves of Grass

By Walt Whitman.


5 September 1960

Fleet Street Kopje

Fleet Street was then the centre of national newspapers. Kopje—a South African term for a small hill—several such were redoubts in the Boer War.


The Hotel Cecil in the Strand in London, built in the 1890s and demolished in 1930. In its day, the largest hotel in Europe.


7 September 1960

no starting tear called for drying

Felicia Hemans, 'To resignation': 'Hush the sad murmur, dry the starting tear.'

the belly of a dead fish

Possibly August Strindberg, The Silver Lake: '…its white side like the belly of a dead fish.'

How right Thomas Hardy was…

Florence Hardy, Life of Thomas Hardy, II, 58:

To cry out in a passionate poem that (for instance) the Supreme Mover or Movers, the Prime Force or Forces, must be either limited in power, unknowing, or cruel—which is obvious enough, and has been for centuries—will cause them merely a shake of the head; but to put it in argumentative prose will make them sneer, or foam, and set all the literary contortionists jumping upon me, a harmless agnostic, as if I were a clamorous atheist, which in their crass illiteracy, they seem to think is the same thing.

Room at the Top

1957 novel by John Braine, adapted for the cinema in 1959. An early example of the 'kitchen-sink' genre.

Old Mortality

1816 novel by Sir Walter Scott set in the reign of James VII (James II of England).

'grane', 'cess', 'tow' and 'marts'

The OED has no relevant entry for 'grane', and defines the other three as 'a land tax', 'a rope' and 'beef cattle' respectively.


Lit. 'living space'—Nazi doctrine purporting to justify German occupation of other people's territory.

The new Ngaio Marsh

False Scent (1960). Roderick Alleyn does indeed blow in.


10 September 1960


Third Empire drama. The Times said of it that it combines 'an opening of pure comedy with a dénouement of the sombrest drama.' It was played at the St James's Theatre in 1870 and regularly revived during the rest of the century.


14 September 1960

Combination room

Name given in the University of Cambridge to the college parlour where the fellows meet after dinner, elsewhere called common-room.

the History of High Wycombe in two volumes—also an exciting looking volume called Solutions

The former is L J Ashford's The History of the Borough of High Wycombe from its Origins to 1880; The History of the Borough of High Wycombe from 1880 to the Present Day; Solutions remains unsolved.


cf Shelley's poem Ozymandias on the evanescence of human glory.


22 September 1960

finding my cheeks 'often bedewed with tears of thoughtful gratitude'

Southey, 'My days among the Dead are passed':

And while I understand and feel
How much to them I owe,
My cheeks have often been bedewed
With tears of thoughtful gratitude

he never made another run practically

This is something of a myth, propagated by Foley. In fact Alletson in his very next innings (against Gloucestershire at Bristol) scored 80, 60 of which came from 17 strokes in the last half-hour of the day. Then, in 1913—against Sussex again—69 out of 98 from 23 strokes; against Derbyshire, 88 in 60 minutes; against Leicestershire 63 in 25 minutes; and in the Yorkshire match at Dewsbury he hit three consecutive balls from Wilfred Rhodes for six apiece.

Ruddigore and The Mountebanks

Pearson (p. 135) described the libretto for Ruddigore as one of Gilbert's best, but was not quite so enthusiastic about The Mountebanks, whose libretto he called as good as any but the best Savoy pieces (p. 171).


25 September 1960

'an insensate step'

In a letter to Hugh Walpole, Henry James so described his agreement to contribute an article to the Times Literary Supplement in 1914. Quoted by RH-D in chapter eight of his Hugh Walpole.


28 September 1960

'and you cannot think how much it changed her appearance for the worse'

Swift, A Tale of a Tub:

Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her appearance for the worse.

in Rasselas, no doubt—that the scientists had much better busy themselves in discovering a cure for asthma rather than in learning how to fly.

In Chapter 6 of Rasselas, the hero unsuccessfully attempts to fly, but no such conclusion as set out by GWL is mentioned.

Vachell's Eton v. Harrow

In Chapter 12 of The Hill by Horace Annesley Vachell. The book is a story of school life at Harrow.

Macdonell's famous match in England, their England.

A G Macdonell's England, Their England (1933), a humorous novel giving a Scot's view of the English, is remembered for its description of a village cricket match which verges on farce.

Like General Alexander

Alexander eventually relented and allowed his (ghosted) memoirs to be published in 1962.

Kingsley Amis's last novel

Take A Girl Like You (1960).

Golden Legend

Cantata by Sullivan with libretto by Joseph Bennett, based on the 1851 poem of the same name by Longfellow. During Sullivan's lifetime it was widely considered his greatest work of serious music; it was regularly programmed and a command performance was given for Queen Victoria. Overtaken by Elgar's oratorios, the work was neglected in the twentieth century.


1 October 1960

Lusus naturae

A sport or freak of nature.


5 October 1960

Do you remember your Clivus?

Clivus: Elementary Exercises in Latin Elegiac Verse, by A C Ainger, an Eton master. The book was published in 1878, with new editions issued until the sixth, in 1958.

Fowler's match

The Eton and Harrow match of 1910. The Harrow team were generally expected to win, and opened their second innings needing only 55 to win, but were bowled out for 45, Robert Fowler of Eton taking eight for 23.

The Quashiboo Rangers. Author totally forgotten

Herbert Sherring.


9 October 1960

we will stay you with flagons

Song of Solomon, 2:5: 'Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples.' This may not mean what it seems to mean: instead of the AV's 'flagons' other translations offer raisins, flowers, dainties and grape-cakes.


13 October 1960

Pug Ismay's and Horrocks's books

Memoirs of two WW2 generals, The Memoirs of Lord Ismay and A Full Life.

runs down Monty in favour of the Auk

WW2 generals, Bernard Montgomery and Claude Auchinleck.

I made no more of it than Dr Johnson did of playing the flageolet

Boswell, Life of Johnson (footnotes):

…he had once bought a flageolet, though he had never made out a tune. 'Had I learnt to fiddle,' he said, 'I should have done nothing else.'

'Sir, his intellect is disordered'

Boswell, Life of Johnson (1777 section):

I mentioned to him a friend of mine who was formerly gloomy from low spirits, and much distressed by the fear of death, but was now uniformly placid, and contemplated his dissolution without any perturbation. 'Sir,' (said Johnson,) 'this is only a disordered imagination taking a different turn.'


27 October 1960

Strachey didn't know about it

Arnold was one of the 'Eminent Victorians' in Strachey's 1918 book.

The uncle in Clough's 'Dipsychus' described them very well.

'a sort of hobbadi-hoy cherub, too big to be innocent, and too simple for anything else'.


29 October 1960

I talked to Bernard Levin in the Old Bailey

Levin included a chapter on the Lady Chatterley trial in his first book, The Pendulum Years (1970).


2 November 1960

I don't think the prosecutor was very forceful

The prosecuting counsel, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, was not effectual, and was much mocked for asking the jury, 'Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?' Bernard Levin, in The Pendulum Years, slipped a cruelly appropriate and breath­takingly obscene cross-reference for Griffith-Jones into the index.

the same end which he had inflicted on the younger Despenser

Both were hanged, but Despenser was also drawn and quartered.

'spirit-searching, light-abandoned'

Martin Chuzzlewit, Ch. 34.


6 November 1960

tant mieux

So much the better.

The Playboy of the Western World

Dublin Theatre Festival production of J M Synge's play, transferred to the St Martin's Theatre in the West End of London. Siobhan McKenna led the cast, with Donal Donnelly as Christy Mahon.

round the ceinture 

Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture: circular line connecting Paris's railway termini, now disused.


16 November 1960

sub specie aeternitatis

Under the aspect of eternity, i.e. in its essential form.

The Pastoral Symphony

There are other Pastoral Symphonies, but this is assuredly Beethoven's (No 6).

Aunt Sybil … Jack Talbot

Sybil Lyttelton was a younger sister of GWL's father. Their sister Lavinia married into the Talbot family.

in the bill

On the list of boys to be disciplined.

segregationists of Louisiana

In the 1950s and early 60s there remained large areas in the USA where local white politicians and citizens were determined to keep black Americans as an underclass.

'sons of Belial flown with insolence and wine'

Paradise Lost, Book 1, 501/2.

The naked earth

GWL and C A Alington included Grenfell's poem 'Into Battle' in their Eton Poetry Book (1925).

With how sad steps

Astrophel and Stella, Sonnet 31: 'With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies !'

Fool said my Muse; look in thy heart and write

Astrophel and Stella, Sonnet 1: 'Fool, said my Muse to me, look in thy heart, and write.'


19 November 1960

Romeo and Juliet at the Old Vic

Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, with John Stride as Romeo, Judi Dench as Juliet, Alec McCowen as Mercutio and Peggy Mount as the Nurse. The Times also disapproved of Alec McCowen's verse speaking—and, indeed, of Judi Dench's and John Stride's. The Gala performance was to mark the tenth anniversary of the Old Vic's reopening after it was badly bombed in WW2. The Queen Mother and the Duchess of Kent (Princess Marina) were present.

'…she's much younger than me.'

Only three years younger. Princess Paul was born in 1903 and Princess Marina in 1906.

'Mysterious Altercation'

A humorous piece about the difficulty of sending baggage by bus from Athens to Delphi.


26 November 1960

D. Somervell's funeral

Lord Somervell died on 18 November. The funeral was at Ewelme church, Oxfordshire.


30 November 1960


Fish restaurant in St James's Street, founded in 1935 as the London outpost of Prunier's in the rue Duphot, Paris. On Madame Prunier's retirement in 1977 it closed, and a Japanese restaurant was opened on the site.


3 December 1960

Mahler's Second Symphony on the radio

Until the 1960s, performances of Mahler's symphonies were rare and noteworthy events. This broadcast performance (by BBC forces conducted by Lorin Maazel) followed a performance at the Royal Festival Hall.

Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck

Conducted by John Pritchard, with Geraint Evans as Wozzeck and Marie Collier as Marie.


7 December 1960

Columbia University

American university, located in New York.


14 December 1960

that Bishop

John Robinson, Bishop of Woolwich, was a witness for the defence in the Lady Chatterley trial.


17 December 1960

what about that Test Match in Australia!

In what Sir Donald Bradman described as 'the greatest Test Match of all time', the first Test between Australia and the West Indies ended in a tie—the first in the history of Test cricket.


26 December 1960

'useful and acceptable' presents

A reference to Joyce Grenfell's celebrated sketch in which an earnest Women's Institute lecturer demonstrates how to make 'useful and acceptable gifts', including boutonnières made of beechnut husks.

Notes to Volume 6: 1961 and January to April 1962


5 January 1961

The Man in the Moon

Man in the Moon. 1960 comedy directed by Basil Dearden, written by Bryan Forbes and Michael Relph, starring Kenneth More, Shirley Anne Field, Michael Hordern and Charles Gray.

vester, not only tuus

'Your' plural, not merely singular.

The cockles … of one's heart

In medieval Latin, a term for the ventricles of the heart was 'cochleae cordis'.

more meo

In my (usual) way.

the Lawrences

GWL's daughter and son-in-law.


7 January 1961

it is unreadable

Nonetheless it had a good review in The Times (16 March 1961). The book was Sir Richard Roos: 1410–1482; Lancastrian Poet by Ethel Seaton; it ran to nearly 600 pages.


12 January 1961

old and gray and full of sleep

From 'When You are Old' by W B Yeats.

Winston's history of the first war

The World Crisis, 1911-1918 (published in six volumes, 1923).


18 January 1961

Holmes-Laski letters

1916-1935 correspondence between Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr and Harold Laski, published in 1953.

Threads of Gold…

The Thread of Gold (1905) and Beside Still Waters (1907) by A C Benson.

Lead, Kindly Light

Hymn with words by J H Newman, 1833 and music by John Dykes, 1867.

Abide with Me

Hymn with words by Henry Lyte, 1847 and music by William Monk, 1861.

his plate-throwing

Frieda Lawrence pooh-pooed the story of Lawrence's throwing plates at her:

The story of the mayor of Milan who came to breakfast in Taormina, with Lawrence throwing plates at me, made me weep tears of laughter. I had never heard it before! And we were poor and did not have so many plates! (New Statesman, 13 August 1955.)


One of the three Gorgons of Greek myth; looking at her face turned any human to stone.


A preference for lucky rather than courageous or clever generals is widely attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, though I can find no verifiable citation.


21 January 1961

Lexham Gardens

In Earl's Court, London.


25 January 1961

till the almond-tree turns pink…

C Day Lewis, From Feathers to Iron 14, 'Now the full throated daffodils':

Today the almond tree turns pink,
The first flush of spring
Winds loll and gossip through the town
Her secret whispering.

the Eton affair

Browning was dismissed from his post at Eton by the Head Master, Hornby, whose action was probably ultra vires.


29 January 1961

faint yet pursuing

Judges 8:4:

And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.

'Faint yet pursuing' became a fashionable phrase in the 19th century and was used by Christina Rossetti, Coventry Patmore and many other writers.


4 February 1961

The Duchess of Malfi

Tragedy by John Webster, 1614. A byword for over-the-top goriness. The revival was directed by Donald McWhinnie, and the cast included Eric Porter, Max Adrian, Derek Godfrey and Patrick Wymark.


9 February 1961

running, as he said, half across London

Advertisement to the first edition of the Life of Johnson:

Let me only observe, as a specimen of my trouble, that I have sometimes been obliged to run half over London, in order to fix a date correctly; which, when I had accomplished, I well knew would obtain me no praise, though a failure would have been to my discredit.


16 February 1961

blood-boltered Webster

cf Macbeth 4:1: 'The blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me'.

A New Zealand village

GWL's writing has evidently been mistranscribed in the middle and at the end: the name seems to be Taumatawhakatangihangako-auauotamateaturipukakapikimaunga-horonukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu

The middle section is not vouched for but at the end 'tahu' not 'tahn' (as printed) must surely be right.


18 February 1961

'with advantages'

Henry V, 4:3:

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day.


22 February 1961

Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream

Libretto adapted by the composer and Peter Pears from the Shakespeare text.


1 March 1961

Nesselrode Pie

Pastry base filled with a bavarois of lemon, rum, candied fruit and (in traditional recipes) chestnuts.


19 March 1961

Do not fancy … something to say

Johnson ('Most affectionately yours') to Boswell, 11 September 1777:

Do not fancy that an intermission of writing is a decay of kindness. No man is always in a disposition to write; nor has any man at all times something to say.


22 March 1961

horrible air of Amplex

A brand of deodorant.

Baghdad on the Hudson

O Henry dubbed New York 'Baghdad on the Subway' in A Madison Square Arabian Night; the name was modified by an unknown wit to that quoted by RH-D. (The estuary of the Hudson River separates the states of New York and New Jersey.)


27 March 1961

succès fou

A wild success.

Four Seasons restaurant

Opened 1959 and still going.


29 March 1961


Thoughts at the back (of one's mind)—doubts, reservations.

New English Bible

The New English Bible version of the New Testament, work on which began in 1947, was jointly published in 1961 by the Oxford and Cambridge University Presses. It became a best-seller at once and sold nearly five million copies within three years. T S Eliot commented, 'We are … entitled to expect from a panel chosen from among the most distinguished scholars of our day at least a work of dignified mediocrity … we find we are offered something far below that modest level, something which astonishes with its combination of the vulgar, the trivial, and the pedantic.' (The Daily Telegraph, 16 December 1962, p 7)

the Lord's Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13, 'Our Father, which art in heaven', is given in the New English Bible in a modernised form, ending:

Forgive us the wrong we have done,
As we forgive those who have wronged us.
And do not bring us to the test,
But save us from the evil one.

Wad I hae the presoomption

A story very similar is in Rosina Bulwer-Lytton's Behind the Scenes (1854),  p 43.

'Truly and indifferently', 'true and lively word'

From the Book of Common Prayer, Holy Communion service, the prayer for the Church Militant:

…and grant unto her whole Council, and to all that are put in authority under her, that they may truly and indifferently administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue. Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and Curates, that they may both by their life and doctrine set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments…


31 March 1961

Tunes of Glory

1960 film directed by Ronald Neame, written by James Kennaway. Drama about conflict between officers in a peacetime regiment, starring Alec Guinness, John Mills, Dennis Price and Kay Walsh.

The Rat Race

1960 film directed by Robert Mulligan, written by Garson Kanin, starring Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds.

The Magnificent Seven 

1960 film directed by John Sturges, written by William Roberts. Western, in which seven mercenaries are hired to defend villagers from bandits. Based on the earlier film Seven Samurai. 

The World of Suzie Wong

1960 film directed by Richard Quine, written by Paul Osborn, based on Richard Mason's novel of the same name. The cast included William Holden, Nancy Kwan, Sylvia Sims and Michael Wilding.


8 April 1961

Madame Bovary

Flaubert's novel was prosecuted for obscenity when it was first serialised in La Revue de Paris in 1856. Flaubert won and the book became a best seller and was quickly recognised as a classic of the genre.


15 April 1961


Old word for hammer. cf Falstaff's 'If I do, fillip me with a three-man beetle'.


16 April 1961

that beautiful church opposite Lord's

St John's Wood church, designed by Thomas Hardwick and built between 1812 and 1814, is a neo-classical building with a large and attractive garden.

to make a Sunday-school holiday

cf Byron, Childe Harold 4:141: 'Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday'.

Clarke Lectures

A long established series of annual lectures under Cambridge auspices, with an impressive list of guest lecturers.


20 April 1961

his forthcoming word-book

Words in Season, published by RH-D in December 1961. The dedication, recorded by RH-D in a note to his 30 September letter, is, 'To George Lyttelton, whose teaching of English has done so much for others in youth and for me in age.'


27 April 1961

that letter from K. Tynan and others about Cuba

A letter in The Times on 19 April headed 'Revolt In Cuba' was signed by Kenneth Tynan, Anthony Wedgwood Benn, John Berger, Constance Cummings, John Freeman, Michael Foot, Penelope Gilliatt, E J Hobsbawm, Paul Johnson, Terence Kilmartin, Doris Lessing, Benn W Levy, Kingsley Martin, John Osborne, Alan Sillitoe, and the cartoonist, Vicky. It accused the USA of improperly engaging in armed intervention in Cuba, and asserted that the Castro regime enjoyed local support.


29 April 1961

La Dolce Vita

1960 film directed by Federico Fellini, written by Fellini and others. Drama about a journalist's search for the meaning of life amid the worldly preoccupations of 1950s Rome. Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Yvonne Furneaux, Anouk Aimée and Anita Ekberg.

the other speeches

In addition to Harold Macmillan and Malcolm Sargent, the third speaker was Air Chief Marshal Sir Thomas Pike.


29 April 1961

Birkbeck Hill's Boswell

George Birkbeck Hill's authoritative edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson was published in 1887 in six volumes. In its second edition, edited by L F Powell (published 1934-50) it retains its pre-eminence.

double pluperfect

e.g. 'if you had have been there'.


3/4 May 1961

who is humble and I am not humble?, as St Paul obscurely put it

I can find no passage remotely like this in the Epistles or anywhere else in the Authorised Version or the Book of Common Prayer.


Fulsome enthusiasm.

in that admirable second act of The Truth about Blayds the old man’s answer...

In fact the line comes from the first act; the old man is dead by the start of the second act.


11 May 1961

Labby's bill

Labouchère, despite his own irregular private life, was responsible for a last minute amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Bill in 1885, allowing the prosecution of men for acts of 'gross indecency'. This law, which was used to prosecute Wilde, was not swept away until the 1960s.

he was conspicuously idle in school

The Times (4 June 1977) said of Headlam, 'He had the reputation, not wholly undeserved, of being the laziest master on the staff.'


13 May 1961

wrongly believing it to be Lafitte

GWL was not wholly wrong: before the twentieth century, Château Lafite (a first growth claret of the highest quality) was regularly spelt with a double t.

Geoffrey Faber's Memorial Service, at which T.S.E. spoke well

Eliot was a director of the publishing house of which Faber was the founding chairman.


24 May 1961

Have you passed the Strand Theatre recently?

The press quotes to which GWL objected were for the show Belle, by Wolf Mankowitz and Monty Norman, retelling the story of Dr Crippen in the form of music hall pastiche. It was not a success and closed the next month.

the Parks … Fenner's

Cricket grounds of Oxford and Cambridge universities.


28 May 1961

a Rover for Ruth

An advance-booked ticket for the guest of a member of MCC.

Beyond the Fringe

Revue written and performed by Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore. The skit of the Prime Ministerial broadcast was by Cook; the mock sermon by Bennett.


31 May 1961

the latter's unspeakable letter to K. Mansfield

See GWL's letter of 18 January 1961.

sheer imbecility, in which class I unhesitatingly put 'The Turn of the Screw' set to music

Britten's 1954 opera The Turn of the Screw, with a libretto by Myfanwy Piper, is now probably more famous internationally than the Henry James story on which it is based (and is generally agreed to be every bit as disturbing).


4 June 1961

the play Tennyson wrote when he was fourteen

The Devil and the Lady, in blank verse throughout.

the Lord Mayor

Sir Bernard Waley-Cohen.

perhaps you saw the list of guests in Thursday's Times?

The immense list of guests included John Sparrow, Osbert Lancaster, Lord Adrian, John Barbirolli, John Betjeman, Kenneth Clark, Clifford Curzon, Lord David Cecil, Ninette de Valois, T S Eliot, Margot Fonteyn, Leon Goossens, Peter Hall, Barbara Hepworth, Fred Hoyle, Peter Medawar, Yehudi Menuhin, Henry Moore, Malcolm Sargent, C P Snow, Basil Spence, Eva Turner, Evelyn Waugh, C V Wedgwood, Norman Wilkinson and Solly Zuckerman.


7 June 1961

a backfisch

A teenage girl (German—lit. a fish for baking) The OED quotes The Pall Mall Gazette, 29 August 1891:

Let us introduce the word 'Backfisch', for we have the Backfisch always with us. She ranges from fifteen to eighteen years of age, keeps a diary, climbs trees secretly, blushes on the smallest provocation, and has no conversation.


11 June 1961 

I overheard the latest Test Score

The first Test against Australia at Edgbaston. The visitors looked set to win when Ruth Simon heard the score, but England later rallied strongly and the game was drawn. Australia won the series 2:1, with two draws.


23 June 1961

our fourteenth-century wall-paintings

St Mary's church, Grundisburgh, had and has several such paintings, including a striking picture of St Christopher, uncovered in the 1950s.

what sort of a night the wicket had below its covers.

In 1961 the practice of covering wickets overnight was still regarded as an innovation; it tends to make conditions more even for batsmen and less helpful for bowlers, particularly the spinners.


1 July 1961

bird lover and for fifty years dear wife of John Dover Wilson

The notice of Dorothy Dover Wilson's death read 'bird lover and for 55' years etc.


5 July 1961

What is the new life of M. like?

By Richard Cordell (1961).

like Douglas Jerrold after reading 'Sordello'

Abstruse philosophical poem by Browning. Tennyson said he understood only two lines, and Jane Carlyle had no idea after reading it whether Sordello was a place, a man or a river. Douglas Jerrold tried to read it when recovering from a serious illness. Failing to understand any of it and fearing his wits had gone, he asked his wife to read it and was much relieved when she too was baffled. ('Thank God! I am not an idiot!')

Wardour Street

In GWL's youth the location of many antique (and faux-antique) shops, hence an adjective meaning quaintly old-fashioned.


King Arthur, in The Idylls of the King.

Merton Street to Carfax

A distance of about 300 metres.


8 July 1961

winning the toss…seems to be fatal

Australia won the toss for the Headingley Test, chose to bat, and collapsed from 183 for two to 208 for nine, and were all out for 237.


13 July 1961

A Passage to India 

E M Forster's 1924 novel.

Christ Church college

Historically the college is part of the cathedral foundation and it is traditionally considered incorrect to accord it a separate identity.


20 July 1961

our Lady of Pain

Dolores in Swinburne's poem of that name is called 'Our Lady of Pain'.

Waugh on old Wodehouse

On 15 July Evelyn Waugh broadcast on the BBC an 'act of homage and reparation to P G Wodehouse' twenty years after Wodehouse had been vilified (at the instigation of Duff Cooper) for broadcasting on an enemy radio station, an act soon generally acknowledged to be one of naïve stupidity rather than treachery.


22 July 1961

The Pilgrim Daughters

What The Times described as 'gossipy rambles' round twenty six American women, including Lady Randolph Churchill and the Duchess of Windsor, who married into the British establishment.


25 June 1961

I cavil hotly at the editing

By Cecil Y Lang.

W-D's sexual habits

Some writers have speculated that Watts-Dunton was in a sexual relationship with Swinburne, who was almost certainly gay. Others think such a relationship unlikely. See Arnold T. Schwab, ‘Wilde and Swinburne: part III’, The Wildean, July 2007, pp. 23–38.

Old Mortality

1816 novel by Walter Scott.


In his 1915 novel Boon, Wells based the character George Boon on Henry James. James was not amused, particularly as Boon argued most un-Jamesianly that novels should be propaganda, not art.


30 July 1961

a non dies

dies non (short for dies non juridicus), lawyers' jargon for a day on which no business is transacted.

a minor recommendation which the members rejected

The proposal was to allow public libraries access to rare books held by the London Library.


1 August 1961

a stuffy little review of old Agate in the T.L.S.

Review of James Agate – An Anthology, edited by Herbert van Thal and published by RH-D. The (anonymous) review was generally favourable.

Ten Modern Poets

Possibly Ten Modern Poets (1930) edited by Rica Brenner: essays on five American and five English poets: Robert Frost, Amy Lowell, Edna St Vincent Millay, Edwin Arlington Robinson and Carl Sandburg; and Walter De La Mare, A E Housman, Rudyard Kipling, John Masefield and Alfred Noyes.


5 August 1961

That last day was pretty exciting

The fourth Test, at Old Trafford, was won by the Australians in what The Times described as 'one of the most dramatic afternoon's cricket of this or any other age'. England had seemed headed for victory, but Benaud's spin bowling (six for 70) won the day.

drive to Scotland for the Twelfth

The 'glorious' 12 August is the first day of the grouse-shooting season.


9 August 1961

I know just as little about diverticula as Mr Micawber did about gowans

Dickens, David Copperfield, Ch 28:

'I am not exactly aware,' said Mr Micawber, with the old roll in his voice, and the old indescribable air of saying something genteel, 'what gowans may be, but I have no doubt that Copperfield and myself would frequently have taken a pull at them, if it had been feasible.'

David by your uncle

Duff Cooper's David, written in 1944, was a biographical study of the biblical king.


12 August 1961

Norway … all those children crashed there

34 schoolboys and two teachers from Lanfranc School, Croydon were killed in a plane crash near Stavanger on 9 August.


16 August 1961

Lebanon leaving the Commonwealth—which I never knew they were in

They weren't in and never had been (GWL's tongue was evidently in his cheek).

Corno di Bassetto

The name under which Bernard Shaw wrote music criticism in The Pall Mall Gazette in the 1880s. Shaw's complete music criticism was published in various volumes from 1937. The most comprehensive edition, edited by Dan H Laurence, was published by the Bodley Head in three volumes in 1981 as Shaw's Music.


20 August 1961

Pater's Imaginary Portraits

Four biographical-style sketches of imaginary figures.


27 August 1961

Ce qui est trop bête pour être joué, on le chante

What is too stupid to be acted is sung.


31 August 1961

light 'middle'

A short piece on a social, ethical, or literary subject (originally placed between the leading articles and the reviews in a newspaper).


3 September 1961

Hampshire's triumph

Hampshire County Cricket Club won the County Championship for the first time in the club's history, after 66 years of trying.


10 September 1961

Tempora mutantur

… et nos mutamur in illis. Times are changing and we are changing with them. (Ovid)


St Catherine's College, Cambridge.


14 September 1961




21 September 1961

Christabel Pankhurst … was a lesbian.

There is strong evidence to support this assertion, but no firm proof. (The Observer, 11 June 2000 on the diaries of Mary Blathwayt.)


7 October 1961

a spectator's leg was broken from just merely looking on

A B 'Banjo' Paterson, 'The Geebung Polo Club':

And the game was so terrific that ere half the time was gone
A spectator's leg was broken—just from merely looking on.


12 October 1961


A game played on a billiard table with six coloured balls and one cue ball, with which players try to pocket the coloured balls in a prescribed order.

How right the Synge character was in describing old age as 'a poor untidy thing'.

In fact it is death that is so described, in Deirdre of the Sorrows (Act 2).


18 October 1961

quam primum

As soon as possible.

the only word with which Stevenson could stimulate his donkey

Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, Ch 2, 'The Green Donkey Driver'. 'Proot' ('the true cry or masonic word of donkey-drivers') fails to make Modestine, the donkey, move.


21 October 1961

Baker Street Irregulars

The original irregulars were a group of street urchins employed by Sherlock Holmes from time to time. Their title was adopted by a group of Holmes enthusiasts founded in 1934 by Christopher Morley.


25 October 1961

the sight of a double bed

Richard Usborne, in Wodehouse at Work (1961), observed, 'There is no suggestion that either clubman or girl would recognise a double bed except as so much extra sweat to make an apple-pie of.'

Mark Twain called 'a spell of the dry grins.'

Actually Joel Chandler Harris: 'Brer Rabbit, he'd git a spell er de dry grins.' (from the Uncle Remus story, Old Mr Rabbit, He's a Good Fisherman).

Adventures and Memoirs

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892) and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) were the first two (of five) collections of Holmes short stories, and are widely thought to contain the pick of the crop, though 'The Noble Bachelor', scorned by GWL, is in The Adventures. The later collections were The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905), His Last Bow (1917) and The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927).

Full Moon

1947 novel featuring Lord Emsworth and the Blandings Castle characters. It is surprising that a connoisseur of Wodehouse like GWL missed it on its first appearance.


1 November 1961

a pleasant vignette of old Doyle in P.G. Wodehouse's Performing Flea

Performing Flea was a collection of letters written by Wodehouse to an old schoolfriend between 1920 and 1953; the title was a genial reference to the gibe by the writer Seán O'Casey in his long decline that Wodehouse was 'English literature's performing flea.' The vignette of Doyle was in a letter of April 1925. PGW wrote that though most writers one admires in one's youth seem unadmirable when one grows up, 'with Doyle I don't have this feeling. I still revere his work as much as ever.' He added that he also admired Doyle as a man:

I should call him definitely a great man… I love that solid precise way he has of talking, like Sherlock Holmes … He saw an advertisement in a paper … some blighter was using his name to swindle the public. Well, what most people in his place would have said would have been, 'Hullo! This looks fishy!' The way he put it when telling me the story was, 'I said to myself, “Ha! There is villainy afoot.”'


9 November 1961

Vice Versa … I suppose it is dead now.

The novel remains in print and has reached new audiences in several television adaptations.

the imbecile Conan Doyle

Adrian Conan Doyle, the author's son.

'Sir, we were a nest of singing birds'

Boswell, Life of Johnson, introduction:

Being himself a poet, Johnson was peculiarly happy in mentioning how many of the sons of Pembroke [College] were poets; adding, with a smile of sportive triumph, 'Sir, we are a nest of singing birds.'


11 November 1961


In his first Christmas Crackers book, John Julius Norwich gave other examples of his mother's windscreen notes, including:

Dear Warden—Only a minute. Horribly old (80) and frightfully lame. Beware of the DOG. [A foot-long chihuahua, Lord Norwich noted].

Laurence Stone, a very nice historian

Correctly Lawrence Stone.


17 November 1961


A game played on a billiard table with six coloured balls and one cue ball, with which players try to pocket the coloured balls in a prescribed order.


23 November 1961

Cardinal Wolsey … supposed to have founded the school—erroneously.

Wolsey founded the current school in 1528; it was based on existing schools, the earliest of which was in existence in the thirteenth century.


25 November 1961

the leader about Henry James in this morning's Times

The Times leader remarked that though James's novels were accessible, his short stories were badly served. 'Mr Rupert Hart-Davis has courageously undertaken to publish The Complete Tales of Henry James in twelve volumes…Publication is to be spread over three years.'

'Puff Preliminary'

Sheridan, The Critic (1779): Mr Puff lists variations on the type: 'the puff direct, the puff preliminary, the puff collateral, the puff collusive, and the puff oblique, or puff by implication. These all assume, as circumstances require, the various forms of Letter to the Editor, Occasional Anecdote, Impartial Critique, Observation from Correspondent, or Advertisement from the Party'.

superb El Greco … the Rubens and King's.

Major A E Allnatt presented El Greco's The Apostle St James to New College, Oxford, and Rubens's Adoration of the Magi to King's College, Cambridge in 1961.


30 November 1961

Pelican Modern Age in their Guides to Eng. Lit

Edited by Boris Ford (1961). The Review of English Studies, May, 1963 said of the volume (after complaining of sloppy proof-reading) that the articles varied in quality, but 'only one—a squalid and hysterical essay on Dylan Thomas and T F Powys by Mr David Holbrook—is unequivocally bad and should not have been printed'.


3 December 1961

dramatisation of C.P. Snow's novel The Affair

Dramatised by Ronald Millar, starring John Clements as the central figure, Lewis Eliot.


14 December 1961

'In Charles II's navy…'

'There were gentlemen and there were seamen in the navy of Charles the Second. But the seamen were not gentlemen; and the gentlemen were not seamen.'


26 December 1961

Your description of the Grundisburgh Parish Council

Not in the published letters.

the second autobiographical venture of Vyvyan Holland

RH-D evidently convinced Vyvyan Holland: no second volume of autobiography is listed among the latter's publications in his Who's Who entry.


28 December 1961


A highly-spiced stew: the word literally means 'rotten pot'.

sold his birthright for a pot of message

Variously ascribed to Neville Coghill, C S Lewis, and Theodore Sturgeon who used it in a 1948 short story.


3 January 1962

Johnson … regarding an ill man as a scoundrel

Boswell, Life of Johnson 1776 section:

'Ready to become a scoundrel, Madam; with a little more spoiling you will, I think, make me a complete rascal.' He meant, easy to become a capricious and self-indulgent valetudinarian; a character for which I have heard him express great disgust.

he won't hit any sixes against a visiting team

The outgoing Governor General, Lord Cobham, had done so. A Wellington newspaper quoted by The Times (11 September 1962) said of him, '…it takes a man's man to don the pads, step out of retirement, and hit a sizzling six at Eden Park.'

he so bungled his speech in the prayer-book debate

Before his elevation to the peerage Lord Hugh Cecil was an MP and a leading member of the Assembly of the Church of England. In 1927 and again in 1928 he failed to persuade the Commons to accept the revised Book of Common Prayer. Low-church opinion felt that the revised book opened the door to 'papistical' practices.

How right you are about Kitchener

RH-D evidently removed his comments about Kitchener when editing the letters for publication.

My old uncle, the general

General Sir Neville Lyttelton.

My old friend Admiral William Fisher

There were three Admiral William Fishers who could have been a friend of GWL: Admiral Sir William Wordsworth Fisher (1875-1937) seems perhaps the most likely, as a near-contemporary.


6 January 1962

Edwin Drood

Dickens's last, unfinished novel.

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off

Book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. The show ran at the Queen's Theatre from July 1961 to November 1962, and transferred to New York for a successful Broadway run.


18 January 1962

vertigo … the is long and not short

The OED (2008) allows both pronunciations but the one with the short i is listed first. The 1933 edition of the Shorter Oxford also puts the short i version first.


The OED is unequivocally of GWL's opinion.

'such a mistake' as old Sir G. Sitwell would have said

'Such a mistake' was a phrase much used by Sir George Sitwell:  'Such a mistake to build a house without a gallery for wet days' … 'Such a mistake that Edith gave up her music; at one time she had quite a pretty touch on the pianoforte'  … 'Such a mistake to have friends' … 'Such a mistake not to ask me' . See Roger Fulford, Osbert Sitwell (1951), p 32.

The cello is (to me) the most splendid of all instruments

GWL played the cello when he was a young man, though a Cambridge University magazine commented: 'When George Lyttelton practises the 'cello, all the cats in the district converge upon his rooms in the belief that one of their number is in distress.' (Humphrey Lyttelton, It Just Occurred to Me, 2007, p 57.)


21 January 1962

à vive voix

Out loud.


24 January 1962

With what I most enjoy contented least

Sonnet 29.

something much more portentous than 1914 or 1939 is on the way

Astrologers were predicting dire consequences from the imminent concatenation of eight planets in the house of Capricorn.


27 January 1962

dressed in a space-suit and waiting to be rocketed to blazes

Colonel John Glenn was about to be the USA's first astronaut in orbital flight.

an excellent movie that has been made from … The Custard Boys

Reach for Glory (1962), directed by Philip Leacock, with a screenplay adapted from John Rae's novel by Jud Kimberg and John Kohn, starring Harry Andrews and Kay Walsh.


1 February 1962

the Prince is not going to Eton

It had been announced that the Prince of Wales would attend Gordonstoun school.


4 February 1962

'the visitable past'

The Aspern Papers (preface) 'I delight in a palpable imaginable visitable past … the marks and signs of a world we may reach over to as by making a long arm we grasp an object at the other end of our own table.' The visitable past was 'the poetry of the thing outlived and lost and gone.'

Indian reactions … the efficacy of their own prayers.

The Times of 1 February carried a piece about the forthcoming concatenation of the astrologers' eight planets under the headline, 'Asian fears at predictions of doom—Mass prayers by Buddhists.'

Monday's traffic-chaos in London

There was a strike by workers on the London Underground and some commuter railways.


8 February 1962

Unhouseled … unaneled

Both used of the dying—without the last sacrament and without extreme unction.


10 February 1962

The Cherry Orchard

Michel Saint-Denis' production for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre, with a cast led by Peggy Ashcroft and John Gielgud as Ranevskaya and Gaev, and including Dorothy Tutin, Patrick Wymark, Judi Dench, Ian Holm and Roy Dotrice.


12 February 1962

qua … a fortiori

as for … even more so

T.E. Brown … God wot … And I not there

Manx writer, famous for 'My Garden' ('A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!'). The phrase 'And I not there' occurs twice in William Cory's 'Ionica', but I cannot find any poem by T E Brown with that refrain.

The Bothie

'The Bothie of Toper-na-Fuosich', a poem in a type of post-classical hexameter.


Schule Schloß Salem, a boarding school in Baden-Württemberg, founded by Kurt Hahn, as was its British offshoot at Gordonstoun.

'Amours de voyage'

Epistolary poem, in which the main voices are those of Claude and Eustace


17 February 1962

Flash Harry, Princess Marina

It is generally accepted that Sargent had an affair with Princess Marina before WW2, and there is no question that they were firm friends until his death.


On Broadway the cast included Olivier—first as Becket and then as King Henry. In London the play was presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company, with Eric Porter as Becket and Christopher Plummer as Henry, directed by Peter Hall.

Don Giovanni at Covent Garden

Conducted by Georg Solti, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, with Cesare Siepi as Giovanni, Geraint Evans as Leporello, Sena Jurinac as Elvira, Leyla Gencer as Anna, Richard Lewis as Ottavio and Mirella Freni as Zerlina.


21 February 1962

scored, with startling blasphemies

'There were several books on a shelf; one lay beside the tea-things open, and Utterson was amazed to find it a copy of a pious work, for which Jekyll had several times expressed a great esteem, annotated, in his own hand, with startling blasphemies.'

full measure pressed down and running over

Luke 6:38:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.


7 March 1962

A worm and no man

Psalm 22:6


28 March 1962

the still small unanswerable voice of coins

Letter from RLS to Sidney Colvin, January 1875.


31 March 1962

Chaliapin … Boris

Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, perhaps the great bass's most celebrated role. The production mentioned by RH-D was probably at the Lyceum in May 1931, with an all-Russian cast, in Sir Thomas Beecham's season of Russian opera and ballet.

Tommy and Joan in their royal stables

Sir Alan Lascelles and his wife lived in a grace and favour residence converted from the old stables of Kensington Palace.

Harold Nicolson's magisterial sureness of touch

Nicolson had written the authorised biography of George V, published in 1952.


17 April 1962

possibly apocryphal, 'Come on Wilfred, we'll get 'em in singles.'

GWL had been instrumental in relegating the story to the apocrypha: see note to his letter of 22 October 1959.

Fowler's match

The Eton and Harrow match of 1910. The Harrow side were generally expected to win, and opened their second innings needing only 55 to win, but were bowled out for 45, Robert Fowler of Eton taking 8 for 23.

The  mini-biographies are divided into pages. Click below:



Peggy Ashcroft

Aarvold, Sir Carl Douglas (1907–1991). Judge of the Mayor’s and City of London Court from 1954–1959; Common Serjeant of the City of London 1959–1964; Recorder of London 1964–75. Earlier played rugby for England, winning 16 caps, and captaining the side. In 1934 he married Noeline Etrenne Hill.

Abel, Robert (1857–1936). Cricketer. Batsman for Surrey (1881–1904) and England (1888–1902). Known as ‘the guv’nor’.

Aberconway, Lady: Christabel Mary Melville, née MacNaghten (1890–1974). Patron of the arts; dedicatee of Walton’s Viola Concerto.

Acton, John Emerich Edward Dalberg (1834–1902). 1st Baron Acton. Scholar. MP for Carlow, 1859–1869. Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge from 1895.

Acton, Sir Harold Mario Mitchell (1904–1994). Writer and scholar. Published The Bourbons of Naples, 1957, and The Last Bourbons of Naples, 1961.

Adam Smith, Janet (1905–1999). Editor, biographer, mountaineer, critic, literary editor, scholar. Literary editor of The New Statesman 1952–1960. Biographer of John Buchan.

Addington, Henry (1757–1844). Politician. Prime Minister, 1801–1804. Followed Pitt the Younger in the post, and was deemed a failure in comparison.

Adeane, Sir Michael Edward (1910–1984). Baron Adeane of Stamfordham. Assistant Private Secretary to George VI, 1937–52, to Elizabeth II, 1952–53; Private Secretary and Keeper of HM’s Archives, 1953–72. From 1972, Chairman, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments and member of the British Library Board.

Adeane, Sir Robert Philip Wyndham (1905–1979). Director: Colonial Securities Trust Co. Ltd; Decca Co. Ltd; Ruberoid and other companies. Trustee, Tate Gallery, 1955–62. Brother of Pamela Lyttelton.

Adie, Clement James Mellish (1874–1954). Eton master, 1905–34. Senior language master.

Agar, Herbert Sebastian (1879–1980). American author. Wrote many works on US politics and governance. Director of RH-D Limited. His third wife was Barbara Wallace, widow of Captain Euan Wallace, MP, and daughter of Sir Edwin Lutyens; she died in 1981 aged 83.

Agate, James Evershed (1897–1947). Diarist and critic. Theatre critic for The Sunday Times, 1923–1947; film critic for The Tattler; literary critic for The Daily Express. He wrote nine volumes of memoirs (Ego, 1–9) in four of which correspondence with GWL features; volume 8 is dedicated to GWL.

Agnew, Sir Geoffrey William Gerald (1908–1986). London art dealer, of the family firm, Thos Agnew & Sons. Managing director, 1937; chairman, 1965–1982.

Ainger, Arthur Campbell (1841–1919). Eton master, 1864–1901.

Albemarle, Lord and Lady: Walter Egerton George Lucian Keppel (1882–1979), 9th Earl of Albemarle, and his wife Diana Cecily, née Grove (1909); she was Chairman of the Albemarle Report on Youth and Development in the Community in 1948. Neighbours of GWL in Suffolk.

Aldington, Richard (1892–1962). Poet, novelist, literary scholar. His obituary in The Times was headed ‘Angry writer and critic.’ Publications include: Death of a Hero (1929) and Life of Wellington (1946).

Alekhine, Alexander Alexandrovich (1892–1946) Russian-born naturalised French chess grandmaster; the fourth World Chess Champion. He was known for his attacking style.

Alexander, Harold Rupert Leofric George (1891–1969). 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis. Soldier. Second World War the commander of the 15th Army Group. He later served as the last British Governor General of Canada (1946–52), and completed his public service as Minister of Defence at Churchill’s re­quest.

Alexander, Michael Charles (1920–2004). Soldier, publisher and author. Books include: The Privileged Nightmare (with Giles Romilly, 1952), Off Beat in Asia (1953), The Reluctant Legionnaire (1956); The True Blue (1958); and Mrs Fraser on the Fatal Shore (1972), the second, third and fourth of which were published by RH-D.

Alexandra, Princess (1936–), daughter of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent and Prince George, Duke of Kent.

Alington, Cyril Argentine (1872–1955). Anglican priest. Headmaster, Shrewsbury School, 1908–16; Head Master, Eton College, 1916–33; Dean of Durham, 1933–1951. Publications include a biography of Edward Lyttelton (1943) and mystery stories including Blackmail in Blankshire (1949), and The Nabob’s Jewel (1953).

Alington, Hester Margaret. née Lyttelton (1874–1958). Wife of Cyril Alington and an aunt of GWL.

Allcock, Charles Howard (1855–1947). Mathematician and cricketer. Eton master 1884–1910. Retired to Aberdovey, where he was celebrated for his hospitality. Played cricket for minor counties Staffordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Allen, Sir George Oswald Browning (‘Gubby’) (1902–1989). Cricketer and cricket administrator. Played for Cambridge University (1922–23), Middlesex (1923–50) and England (1930–48). Chairman of Selectors, 1955–61; Chairman MCC cricket subcommittee, 1956–63; President, MCC, 1963–64; Treasurer, 1964–76; Member of the Cricket Council, 1968–82.

Alletson, Edwin Boaler (1884–1963). Cricketer. Nottinghamshire batsman, 1906– 1914. Alletson was famous for a remarkable, match-winning innings against Sussex in 1911, when he scored 189 in 90 minutes, the last 142 in 40 minutes.

Allingham, Margery (1904–66). Writer of detective fiction featuring her sleuth Albert Campion.

Allnatt, Alfred Ernest (d. 1969). Director of a property company, who gave Rubens’s Ado­ration of the Magi to King’s College, Cambridge, and El Greco’s The Apostle St James to New College, Oxford.

Alma-Tadema, Sir Lawrence (1836–1912). Dutch-born painter, immensely popular in late nineteenth century Britain, where he lived from 1870. He became famous for his depictions of the luxury and decadence of the Roman Empire, with languorous figures set in fabulous marbled interiors or against a backdrop of dazzling blue Mediterranean sea and sky.

Altham, Harry Surtees (1888–1965). Cricketer, schoolmaster and cricket administrator. Master at Winchester 1913–14 and 1919–48. Played for Hampshire from 1919. President of MCC, 1959–60.

Amis, Sir Kingsley (1922–1995). Novelist, critic and teacher. His first novel, Lucky Jim, published in 1954, was a success with the public, if not with GWL.

Andersen, Hendrik, Norwegian-American sculptor (1872–1940). Object of fascination to Henry James.

Angell, Sir (Ralph) Norman, Lane (1872–1967). Writer, peace activist and Nobel laureate.

Annan, Noel Gilroy (1916–2000), Baron Annan. Historian and academic. Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, 1956–66; Provost of University College, London, 1966–78; Vice-Chancellor, University of London, 1978–81. Married, 1950, Gabriele Ullstein (b. 1922/3), who had a distinguished career as a writer, translator and literary critic.

Anselm, Saint (1033–1109). Italian philosopher and theologian, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. Called the founder of scholasticism, he is famous as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God and as the archbishop who openly opposed the Crusades.

Antheil, George Carl Johann (1900– 1959). American composer, pianist and author.

Aprahamian, Felix, Apraham Felix Bartev Aprahamian (1914–2005). Music critic. Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society (1994), the first critic to receive that honour.

Archer, William (1856–1924). Scottish critic, playwright, and translator of Ibsen.

Argyll, Ian Douglas Campbell (1903–1973), 11th Duke of. Later famous for his 1963 divorce from his wife, whose sexual misconduct was the stuff of legend.

Arlen, Michael, Dikran Kouyoumdjian (1895–1956). Bulgarian-born, of Armenian parents. Essayist, short story writer, novelist, playwright and script writer, who had his greatest successes in the 1920s while living and writing in England. His biggest success was The Green Hat (1924).

Arnold, Matthew (1822–1888). Poet and critic. Son of Thomas Arnold.

Arnold, Thomas (1795–1842). Headmaster of Rugby school, 1828–1841. Regius Professor of Poetry at Oxford, 1841–42. One of the ‘Eminent Victorians’ in Lytton Strachey’s book of that name.

Ascham, Roger (c. 1514–1568). Author and royal tutor.

Ashcroft, Dame Peggy (Elizabeth Margaret Emily) (1907–91). One of the great actresses of the twentieth century. In 1934 she played Juliet in a famous production of Romeo and Juliet in which John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier alternated in the roles of Romeo and Mercutio. Thereafter she starred in productions ranging from Ibsen to drawing room comedy to Beckett. Briefly (1929–33) married to RH-D and thereafter remaining on close terms.

Askey, Arthur (1900–1982). Liverpool-born comedian and singer of ‘silly little songs’.

Asquith, Herbert Henry (1852–1928). 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith. Liberal Prime Minister, 1908–16. Introduced the Irish Home Rule Act, 1914.

Astley, Philip (1896–1958). Soldier. Served in both World Wars, winning the Military Cross in the first. From 1940 to 1945 he was a senior figure in the army’s public relations. Married Joan Bright in 1949.

Astor, Gavin (1918–1984). 2nd Baron Astor of Hever. Soldier and publisher.

Astor, John Jacob (1886–1971), 1st Baron Astor of Hever. Co-proprietor of The Times with John Walter, 1922–59.

Attlee, Clement Richard (1883–1967). 1st Earl Attlee. Labour politician. Prime Minister 1945–51.

Attlee, Wilfred (1877–1962). Medical officer to Eton College, 1906–44.

Auchinleck, Sir Claude John Eyre (1884–1981). Soldier. Indian Army 1903–41. C-in-C in India, 1941 and 1943–47; C-in-C Middle East, 1941–42.

Auden, Wystan Hugh (1907–1973). Poet, essayist and critic.

Augustus the Strong: Frederick Augustus I (1670–1733), Elector of Saxony 1694–1733 and King of Poland (as Augustus II) 1697–1704 and again 1709–1733. His great physical strength earned him his nickname. He liked to show off by breaking horse shoes with his bare hands. Carlyle referred to him in Frederick the Great as Augustus the Physically Strong.

Aumonier, Stacy (1887–1928). Author. Collections of short stories include: Three Bars Interval, 1917; The Love-a-Duck and Other Stories, 1921; Odd Fish, 1923; Miss Bracegirdle and Others, 1923; Overheard, 1924; and The Baby Grand and Other Stories, 1926.

Austen, Jane (1775–1817). Novelist, famous for Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

Austen-Leigh, Edward Compton (d. 1916 aged 76). Eton master, 1862–1905.

Austin, Alfred (1835–1913). Poet. Succeeded Tennyson as poet laureate in 1896.



A C Benson

Bacon, Francis (1909–1992). Irish painter of works noted for grotesque or nightmarish imagery.

Bagnold, Enid Algerine, Lady Jones (1889–1981). Author and playwright, best known for the 1935 story National Velvet which was filmed by MGM in 1944.

Bailey, Frederick Marshman (1882–1967). Explorer, secret agent, botanical collector and soldier.

Bailey, John Cann (1864–1931). Literary critic. President of the Literary Society. Publications include Dr Johnson and his Circle, 1913. Husband of GWL's aunt Sarah Lyttelton.

Bailey, Trevor Edward (1923–2011). Cricketer. Essex (1946–67) and England (1949–59) all-rounder. Later a cricket commentator and writer.

Baines, Jocelyn Cuthbert (1924–1972). Author, critic and bookseller. The Times, in its obituary notice (15 December 1972), said of Baines's Conrad that it remained a standard work and 'takes its place firmly on the shelf alongside Edel and Quentin Bell.'

Baldwin, Stanley (1867–1947). 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, Conservative politician. Prime Minister 1923–24, 1924–29 and 1935–37. Much criticised in the 1940s and 50s for his 1930s policy of appeasing Nazi Germany.

Baldwin, (Arthur) Windham ('Bloggs') (1904–1976). 3rd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley. Younger son of Stanley Baldwin and combative defender of his father's reputation.

Balfour, Arthur (1848–1930). Conservative politician. Prime Minister, 1902–05. Later served in senior cabinet posts under Asquith, Lloyd George and Baldwin.

Balzac, Honoré de (1799–1850). French novelist and playwright. Author of a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoleon.

Banck, Victor. Alsace-born French master at Eton College who 'stood no 'ombog' (The Times 24 April 1933) and refused to take off his hat when the German Emperor visited Eton in 1891 ('I vill not lift my 'at to your sacré empereur.')

Bancroft, Sir Squire (1841–1926). Actor-manager. Married (Effie) Marie Wilton (1840–1920) in 1868, and jointly produced and acted in many West End plays until their retirement in 1885.

Bantock, Geoffrey Herman (1914–1997). Academic. Reader in (later Professor of) Education, Leicester, 1954–1975.

Barbauld, Anna Laetitia née Aikin (1743–1825). Poet, essayist, children's author and feminist.

Barham, Richard Harris (1788–1845). Anglican priest. Author of The Ingoldsby Legends under the pen name Thomas Ingoldsby.

Baring, Lady Rose Gwendolen Louisa, née McDonnell (1909–1993). Woman of the Bedchamber to Elizabeth II from 1953.

Baring, Maurice (1874–1945). Novelist. His novel C was published in 1924.

Barnes, Djuna (1892–1982). American writer. Her novel Nightwood became a cult work of modern fiction, helped by an introduction by T S Eliot.

Barrie, Sir James Matthew (1860–1937), Scottish novelist and dramatist, creator of Peter Pan.

Barrington, Patrick William Daines Ardglass (1908–1990), 11th Viscount Barrington. Anglo-Irish peer and writer of humorous verse.

Barry, Sir Gerald (1898–1968), Journalist and Director General of the Festival of Britain celebrating the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Barth, Karl (1886–1968). Swiss theologian. Professor of Theology at Basle University, 1935–62. The Times obituary notice said of him, 'He was indeed more than a theologian, for he earned a place in the ranks of the Christian prophets.'

Bartók, Béla Viktor Janós (1881–1945). Hungarian composer. Incorporated elements from Magyar folk music in his works. A modernist in style, without abandoning tonality.

Batchelor, Denzil Stanley (1909–1969). Journalist. Reported on cricket and rugby football for several newspapers, including The Times. Also known for his work as a broadcaster, oenophile and novelist.

Bates, Herbert Ernest (1905–1974). Novelist whose works include the popular The Darling Buds of May and its successors featuring the Larkin family.

Batsford, Sir Brian Caldwell Cook (1910–1991). Conservative MP and publisher.

Battie, Dr William (1703–76). One of the first doctors to specialise in psychiatry. President of the Royal College of Physicians, 1764.

Baxter, Charles (1848–1919). R L Stevenson's legal adviser, business manager, and lifelong friend.

Bayley, John (1925–2015). Literary scholar and writer. Warton Professor of English at Oxford 1974–92. Edited Henry James's The Wings of the Dove and a two-volume selection of James's short stories. Married Iris Murdoch in 1956.

Beachcomber – see Morton, J B.

Beasley-Robinson, Aubrey Claude (1893–1974). Anglican priest. Eton master until 1946. Ordained 1949. Entered the Society of St John the Evangelist, the 'Cowley Fathers', a monastic Anglican order. He continued to attend the biannual dinner for old boys of his house until 1973.

Beaton, Sir Cecil Walter Hardy (1904–1980). Photographer and stage designer.

Beatrice, Princess, of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1857–1944). Youngest daughter of Queen Victoria; married Prince Henry of Battenberg in 1885.

Beauclerk, Topham (1739–1780) Son of Lord Sidney Beauclerk; friend of Dr Johnson.

Beckford, William Thomas (1759–1844). Writer and eccentric. Author of Vathek, a fantastic tale of the Arabian Nights sort.

Beddington, Mrs Claude (c. 1880–1962) née Frances Ethel Homan-Mulock. Published her memoirs, All That I Have Met in 1929. In her will she endowed prizes at Eton, Oxford, Cambridge, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music.

Beddoes, Thomas Lovell (1803–1849). English poet and dramatist.

Bedser, Sir Alec Victor (1918–2010). Cricketer; fast bowler for Surrey and England in a career that spanned twenty-one years. Chairman of selectors for the English team, and president of Surrey County Cricket Club.

Beecham, Lady, née Jean (known as Shirley) Hudson (b. 1932). Married Sir Thomas Beecham in 1959.

Beecham, Sir Thomas (1879–1961). Conductor and impresario. Supplanted George Moore as Lady Cunard's lover. Forsook Lady Cunard on his second marriage, in 1943, to Betty Humby.

Beerbohm Tree, Herbert – see Tree, Herbert Beerbohm.

Beerbohm, Elisabeth née Jungmann (died 1959 aged about 62). Secretary, companion and—for a month before he died—wife of Max Beerbohm. Earlier she had been assistant to Robert Birley as educational adviser in Germany, 1947–49, of which Birley said, 'I think she did more than any other person after the war to create a new relationship between England and the liberal forces in German art and literature.' (The Times, 21 January 1959, p 13).

Beerbohm, Sir Max (1872–1956). Critic, essayist, cartoonist and satirist. m, 1956, Elisabeth Jungmann. In Philip Ziegler's biography of Hart-Davis six of the 26 books listed as edited by RH-D were of Max Beerbohm's works.

Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770–1827). German composer.

Behan, Brendan Francis (1923–1964). Irish writer and drinker.

Behn, Aphra (1640–1689). Restoration dramatist. One of the first English professional female writers. Her best-known work is The Rover.

Behrman, Samuel Nathaniel (1893–1973). American author, playwright and screenwriter.

Bell, John (1922–2008). Publisher's editor. Prominent in the Oxford University Press. Co-editor of The Collected Letters of Wilfred Owen (1967).

Bell, (Arthur) Clive Heward (1881–1964). Critic and writer. Member and chronicler of the Bloomsbury group.

Belloc Lowndes, Marie Adelaide (1868–1947). Anglo-French writer. Sister of Hilaire Belloc. Married Frederick Lowndes.

Belloc, (Joseph) Hilaire Pierre René (1870–1953). Anglo-French writer and Liberal MP (1906–10), remembered for his Cautionary Tales.

Benaud, Richard ('Richie') Benaud (1930–2015). Cricketer; all-rounder. Highly successful captain of Australia, 1958–64. Subsequently eminent cricket commentator and writer.

Bennett, (Enoch) Arnold (1867–1931). Novelist, playwright and journalist. His novels include the Clayhanger trilogy and The Old Wives' Tale. His journals were published in four volumes between 1930 and 1933.

Bennett, Joan (1896–1986). Lecturer in English at Cambridge University from 1936 to 1964, and a Life Fellow of Girton.

Bennett, (Henry) Stanley (1889–1972). Bibliographer, Chaucerian. Life Fellow, Emmanuel College, Cambridge (Librarian, 1934–59); Emeritus University Reader in English; Vice-President of the British Academy, 1959–60.

Benson, Arthur Christopher (1862–1925). Teacher and writer. Eton master, 1885–1903. Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1904, and, from 1915 until his death, Master. Joint editor (with the second Viscount Esher) of the first three volumes of The Letters of Queen Victoria (1907). His poems and volumes of essays, such as From a College Window, were famous in his day, and he left one of the longest diaries ever written, some four million words, edited for publication by Percy Lubbock.,

Benson, Edward Frederic (1867–1940). Novelist and biographer. Nowadays principally known for his 'Mapp and Lucia' series of mannered comic novels. Son of Archbishop E W Benson and brother of A C and R H.

Benson, Edward White (1829–1896). Anglican priest. Bishop of Truro, 1877–1882; Archbishop of Canterbury from 1882 until his death. Best remembered for devising the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, an order of service first used in Truro Cathedral on Christmas Eve 1880, much emulated elsewhere, notably at King's College Chapel, Cambridge.

Benson, Robert Hugh (1871–1914). Anglican and later, from 1903, Roman Catholic priest and writer. Son of Archbishop E W Benson and younger brother of A C and E F Benson. Published many popular works of fiction including The Light Invisible (1903), as well as sermons and biographies.

Bentley, Edmund Clerihew (1875–1956). Novelist and inventor of the clerihew, humorous verse on biographical topics, deceptively irregular in form. Author of the seminal English detective novel, Trent's Last Case (1913).

Bentley, Nicolas ( Nicholas) Clerihew (1907–1978). Cartoonist. Son of Edmund Clerihew Bentley. As book illustrator, known for his customary by-ine: 'Nicolas Bentley drew the pictures'. Books for which he drew the pictures include Belloc's New Cautionary Tales, T S Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and the second and third of Lawrence Durrell's 'Antrobus' collections.

Bentley, Richard (1662–1742). Classical scholar. Like A E Housman two centuries later he evinced serious interest in Manilius.,

Berg, Alban Maria Johannes (1885–1935). Austrian composer of the Second Viennese School led by Arnold Schoenberg. Sometimes transcended dodecaphonic dogma to produce music of beauty, but too modern for GWL's tastes.

Berkeley, Anthony. One of the pen-names of Anthony Berkeley Cox (1893–1971), who also wrote as Francis Iles.

Berlin, Sir Isaiah (1909–1997). Described by The Guardian as 'the most famous English academic intellectual of the post-war era, outstanding lecturer, peerless conversationalist and superlative essayist.' Born in Latvia; family moved to England in 1921.

Bernhardt, Sarah (1844–1923). French actress of enormous international celebrity.

Berry, Walter Van Rensselaer (1859–1927). American lawyer and critic. Greatly loved by Edith Wharton.

Besant, Annie Wood (1847–1933). Theosophist, feminist, writer and orator.

Betjeman, John (1906–1984). Poet and broadcaster. Poet Laureate 1972–84. Publications include: Poems: Old Lights for New Chancels, 1940; New Bats in Old Belfries, 1945; Selected Poems, 1948; A Few Late Chrysanthemums, 1954; Summoned by Bells (verse autobiography), 1960; A Nip in the Air, 1974Prose: Ghastly Good Taste, 1933; Antiquarian Prejudice, 1939; English Cities and Small Towns, 1943.

Bevan, Aneurin (1897–1960). Welsh Labour MP, Minister of Health at the time of the introduction of the National Health Service. Vociferously left-wing in his politics.

Bevin, Ernest (1881–1951) Trade union leader, and Labour politician. Minister of Labour in the coalition government in WWII, and a greatly-admired Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour government.

Birkenhead, Earls of: Frederick Edwin Smith (1872–1930) 1st Earl, Conservative politician and lawyer, known for his wit and diehard Toryism. Lord Chancellor, 1919–22 and Secretary of State for India, 1924–28. His son, the 2nd Earl, Frederick Winston Furneaux Smith (1907–1975) was a historian best known for his controversial biography of Rudyard Kipling which was suppressed by the Kipling family for many years.

Birkett, (William) Norman (1880–1962). 1st Baron Birkett. Lawyer and politician. Liberal MP, 1923–24 and 1929–31. British judge during the Nuremberg trials.

Birley, Sir Robert (1903–1982). Headmaster of Charterhouse, 1935–47; British educational adviser in Germany, 1947–49; Head Master of Eton, 1949–63; visiting Professor at Witwatersrand University, South Africa, 1964–1967; Professor and Head of Department of Social Science and Humanities, City University 1967–1971. Professor of Rhetoric, Gresham College, London 1968–1982. Staunch upholder of human rights and opponent of apartheid.

Birmingham, George A: pen name of Canon James Owen Hannay (1865–1950), Anglican priest and novelist.

Birrell, Augustine (1850–1933). Politician and author. Son of a Baptist minister but in adult life an agnostic, though according to the DNB retaining a deep respect for the Liberal nonconformist tradition of his Liverpool upbringing.

Black Prince: Edward of Woodstock. Prince of Wales (1330–1376). Eldest son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault, and father of Richard II.

Blackmore, Sir Richard (1654–1729). Physician and writer. Author of Prince Arthur: an Heroick Poem in Ten Books, which he wrote with the aim of reforming contemporary poetry from the immorality and impiety of the age, for which William III knighted him.

Blackwell, Sir Basil Henry (1889–1984). Bookseller and publisher, a member of the Oxford bookselling dynasty.

Blake, Robert (1599–1657). Sailor. Leading admiral of the Roundheads in the Civil War. As a young man he wanted to follow an academic career but when he stood for a fellowship at Merton College, Oxford he failed to secure election.

Blake, William (1757–1827). Poet, painter and printmaker.

Blakiston, (Hugh) Noel (1905–1984). Archivist and author, prominent figure in the Public Record Office. Catalogued the Eton College library for which undertaking he was made an honorary fellow of the college, the first for more than three centuries.

Blakiston, Cuthbert Harold (1879–1949). Eton master, 1905–25. Headmaster of Lancing College, 1925–34.

Bland, (Hugh) Michael (1874–1956). Eton master, c. 1895–1932.

Bland, Deirdre – see Hart Davis, Deirdre.

Bliss, Sir Arthur Edward Drummond (1891–1975). Composer. Master of the Queen's Musick 1953–75.

Blixen-Finecke, Baroness Karen von, née Karen Dinesen (1885–1962). Danish author also known under the pen name Isak Dinesen. Best known for Out of Africa, her account of living in Kenya, and Babette's Feast, both of which were adapted into films.

Blunden, Edmund Charles (1896–1974). Poet and university lecturer. He served in World War I and published the prose work Undertones of War (1928). His poetry is mainly about rural life. Among his scholarly contributions was the discovery and publication of poems by the 19th century poet John Clare. At the time of RH-D's letters to GWL, Blunden was head of the English department at the University of Hong Kong. He was later Professor of Poetry at Oxford, 1966–68. Publications include biographies of Leigh Hunt and Shelley, and works on Henry Vaughan, John Keats, and Charles Lamb.

Blunt, Wilfrid Jasper Walter (1901–1987). Teacher of art and writer. Art master at Haileybury College, 1923–37. Drawing master at Eton 1938–59. Nephew of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, and brother of Anthony Blunt, the Soviet agent.

Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen (1840–1922). Poet and writer. He had a long relationship with (among many others) the courtesan Catherine Walters ('Skittles').

Blythe, Colin (1879–1917). Cricketer. Kent and England left arm spinner, regarded as one of the finest bowlers between 1900 and 1914. Killed on active service in WWI.

Boase, Thomas Sherrer Ross (1898–1974). Historian. President of Magdalen College, Oxford, 1947–1968. Vice-Chancellor, 1958–60.

Bodkin, Sir Archibald Henry (1862–1957). Lawyer. Director of Public Prosecutions, 1920–1930, scourge of publishers of such books as Ulysses and The Well of Loneliness.

Bogan, Louise (1897–1970). American poetess and critic.

Boll, Theophilus Ernest Martin (1902–1994). Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Emeritus from 1972. An expert on the novelist May Sinclair.

Bonaparte, Napoleon (1769–1821). French soldier, politician and emperor.

Bonham-Carter, Lady Violet (1887–1969). Author, governor of the BBC, 1941, first woman president of the Liberal Party, 1944. Daughter of H H Asquith.

Bonham-Carter, Mark Raymond (1922–1994). Editor, publisher and politician. Created a life peer in 1986. Son of Violet Bonham-Carter.

Booker, Robert Penrice Lee (1864–1922). Eton master from 1888–1920.

Boothby, Robert John Graham (1900–1986). Baron Boothby. Broadcaster and Conservative politician. His racy private life was known in Establishment circles but not by the public.

Borden, Mary (married names Mary Turner; Mary Spears, Lady Spears; pen name, Bridget Maclagan) (1886–1968). American-born author. Books include Flamingo (1928); The Forbidden Zone (1931); The Techniques of Marriage (1933); Passport for a Girl (1939); Mary of Nazareth (1933); The King of the Jews (1935), For the Record (1950) and Martin Merriedew (1952). Mother of Comfort Hart-Davis.

Bosie – see Douglas, Lord Alfred.

Bott, Josephine (1903–1982). Widow of Alan John Bott (1893–1952) co-founder of the Book Society and Pan Books. Both the Botts became good friends of Hugh Walpole. Josephine Bott wrote a number of books of short stories.

Bourchier, Arthur (1864–1927). Actor, described in his Times obituary as 'one of the last of the old school of actor-managers.' His London theatre was the Strand (now called the Novello). He made early gramophone recordings of excerpts from Macbeth, appeared in a 1913 silent film version, and produced and starred in stage productions of the play.

Bourne, Robert Morice Anthony ('Bobby') (1918–1995). Eton master, 1947–1983. GWL's son-in-law, having married Margaret Rose Lyttelton in 1949. Successful rowing coach.

Bowen, Elizabeth Dorothea Cole (1899–1973). Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer. Published eleven novels between 1927 and 1958.

Bowra, Sir Cecil Maurice (1898–1971). Classical scholar and academic. Warden of Wadham, Oxford, 1938–71; Professor of Poetry 1946–1951; Vice Chancellor 1951–1954.

Bracken, Brendan (1901–1958). Irish-born newspaper publisher, editor and British Conservative politician, believed to be the model for the brash Rex Mottram in Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

Bradbury, Ray Douglas (1920–2012) American writer of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mysteries.

Bradlaugh, Charles (1833–1891). Proponent of atheism; founded the National Secular Society in 1866.

Bradley, Andrew Cecil (1851–1935). Professor of Poetry at Oxford. Published Shakespearean Tragedy in 1904.

Bradman, Sir Donald George (1908–2001). Australian cricketer, and later cricket administrator and writer. Wisden said of him, '…beyond any argument, the greatest batsman who ever lived and the greatest cricketer of the 20th century.'

Brailsford, Henry Noel (1873–1958). Prominent left-wing journalist, author and editor. The Times described him as 'An intellectual crusader … a leading English Socialist intellectual and an author and a journalist of an uncommonly cultivated stamp.'

Brain, Sir (Walter) Russell (1895–1966), 1st Baron Brain. Author, physician and medical statesman.

Brand, Robert Henry (1878–1963). Baron Brand. Merchant banker and public servant.

Bratby, John Randall (1928–1992). Painter and writer; editor-in-chief of Art Quarterly. It was for his generation of young artists that the critic David Sylvester coined the phrase 'Kitchen Sink' to describe the depressing realism of their art.

Braxfield, Robert Macqueen (1722–1799), 1st Baron. Scottish lawyer notorious as a 'hanging judge'. Reactionary in politics and a hard drinker described by Henry Cockburn as 'strong built and dark, with rough eyebrows, powerful eyes, threatening lips, and a low growling voice, he was like a formidable blacksmith. His accent and his dialect were exaggerated Scotch; his language, like his thoughts, short, strong, and conclusive.'

Brearley, Walter (1876–1937). Cricketer. Fast bowler for Lancashire (1902–1921) and England (1905–12).

Brewster, Julia, née von Stockhausen (1847–1895), wife of Henry (Harry) Bennett Brewster (1850–1908), A member of Ethel Smyth's circle. Smyth and the Brewsters had an unusual triangular amatory relationship.

Bridges, Edward Ettingdene (1892–1969), 1st Baron Bridges. Civil servant. Cabinet Secretary, 1938–46, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury 1946–56. Son of the poet Robert Bridges.

Bridges, Robert Seymour (1844–1930). Poet and critic. Poet Laureate, 1913–1930. He wrote The Testament of Beauty (1929) a long philosophical poem. In 1918 he edited and published the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Brien, Alan (1925–2008). Journalist and novelist. Critic, columnist and foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times, Punch, The New Statesman and The Observer.

Briggs, Johnny (1862–1902). Cricketer. Left arm spin bowler for Lancashire (1879–1900) and England (1884–1899).

Briginshaw, Richard William (1908–1992). Baron Briginshaw. Trade union leader. General Secretary of NATSOPA, 1951–74.

Brinton, Hubert (1863–1941). Eton master, 1887–1924.

Bristow, (Walter) Rowley (1882–1947). Consulting Orthopædic Surgeon to St Thomas's Hospital; Professor, Royal College of Surgeons.

Britten, (Edward) Benjamin (1913–1976). Leading British composer of his generation. One of the few composers of the twentieth century (along with Richard Strauss and Giacomo Puccini) to have a substantial body of operas in the regular international repertoire.

Broadbent, Henry (1852–1935). Eton master 1876–1919. Classicist, known for his Plato class for the upper boys. College Librarian 1920–1935.

Brodrick, William St John Fremantle (1856–1942). 1st Earl of Midleton. Secretary of State for India, 1903–05. He was in conflict with the Viceroy (Curzon) over Colonel Younghusband's role in Tibet, and sought to block any honours for Younghusband. Brodrick's brother Colonel Arthur Grenville Brodrick (1868–1934) was a serving soldier from 1884 to 1919.

Brogan, Sir Denis William (1900–1974). Author and historian.

Brontë, Charlotte (1816–1855), novelist.

Brontë, Patrick Branwell (1817–1848). Painter and poet, brother of Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë.

Brook, Norman Craven (1902–1967). Baron Normanbrook. Civil servant. Cabinet Secretary, 1947–62. Head of the Home Civil Service, 1956–62.

Brook, Richard (1880–1969). Anglican priest. Headmaster, Liverpool College, 1919–28; Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, 1940–53.

Brown, Ivor John Carnegie (1891–1974). Author and journalist. London dramatic critic and leader-writer for The Manchester Guardian, 1919–1935; dramatic critic to The Observer, 1929–1954. Publications include A World in Your Ear, 1942; Shakespeare, 1949; Mind Your Language, 1962; Dr Johnson and His World, 1965.

Brown, John ('Estimate') (1715–1766), Anglican priest, author and moralist. published An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times in 1757.

Browne, Sir Thomas (1605–1682) Author of a range of works covering medicine, religion, science and the esoteric.

Browning Elizabeth, née Barrett (1806–1861). Poet. Wife of Robert Browning.

Browning, Oscar (1837– 1923). Writer, historian, schoolmaster and don. Fellow and tutor, King's College, Cambridge.

Browning, Robert (1812–89). Romantic poet of the Victorian era.

Browning, Robert Wiedeman Barrett ('Pen') (1849–1912). Painter. Only child of Robert and Elizabeth Browning. Married a rich heiress and bought Ca' Rezzonico in Venice, where Robert senior died.

Bruce Lockhart, Sir Robert (1887–1970). Diplomat, author and journalist. Acting Consul-General in Moscow, 1915–1917; arrested by the Bolsheviks and imprisoned in the Kremlin, September, 1918; banker in Central Europe, 1922–1928; editorial staff, Evening Standard, 1929–1937; Foreign Office, 1939–45. Publications include Memoirs of a British Agent, 1932; My Rod My Comfort, 1948; Jan Masaryk, 1951; Giants Cast Long Shadows, 1960.

Brunner, Sir Felix John Morgan (1895–1982). Businessman and politician. President of the Liberal Party 1962–3. Married, 1926, Dorothea Elizabeth Irving, actress and voluntary worker (1904–2003).

Bryher: pen name of Annie Winnifred Ellerman (1894–1983). Novelist, poet, memoirist, and magazine editor.

Bryson, John (1896–1976). Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Balliol College, Oxford, 1940–63.

Buchan, John (1875–1940). 1st Baron Tweedsmuir. Scottish public servant and author, best known for his adventure stories such as The Thirty Nine Steps (1915). Governor General of Canada 1935–40.

Bullock, Sir Alan Louis Charles (1914–2004). Baron Bullock of Leafield. Historian and academic. Master of St. Catherine's College, Oxford, 1960–80; Vice-Chancellor, 1969–73. Books include Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1952); The Liberal Tradition (1956); The Life and Times of Ernest Bevin (1960); The Humanist Tradition in the West (1985); Has History a Future? (1987).

Bülow, Prince Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von (1849–1929) Chancellor of the German Empire, 1900–1909.

Burgess, Guy Francis De Moncy (1911–1963). Leading member of the 'Cambridge ring' of Soviet spies that operated in Britain between the middle 1930s and the early 1950s. Fled to Russia in 1951 and lived in unhappy exile for the rest of his life.

Burt, Clive Stuart Saxon (1900–1981). Lawyer. Metropolitan Magistrate, 1958–73.

Butler, Richard Austen ('Rab') (1902–1982). Conservative politician. One of the few politicians to have served in the three posts of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary, but twice passed over for the premiership.

Butler, Samuel (1835–1902). Writer and artist. His novel The Way of All Flesh is a satire on Victorian hypocrisy.

Butterwick, (James) Cyril (1890–1966). Eton master, later a partner and auctioneer at Sotheby's. Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths' Company.

Byrne, Lionel Stanley Rice ('Fuggy') (1863–1948). Eton master, 1889–1924, specialising in modern languages.

Byron, George Gordon (1788–1824). 6th Baron Byron. Poet, prominent exponent of romanticism. Among his best-known works are the narrative poems Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and the incomplete Don Juan.

Byron, Robert (1905–1941). Traveller and writer on art, best known for his The Road to Oxiana (1937) which combines a discourse on Islamic art with entertaining travel writing.

Bywater, Ingram (1840–1914) Classical scholar. Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford (1863), reader in Greek (1883), Regius Professor of Greek (1893–1908). Known for his editions of Greek philosophical works including Aristotle's Poetics (1898).



Lady Diana Cooper

Caccia, Harold Anthony (1905–1990). Baron Caccia. Diplomat. Ambassador to Washington, 1965–61. Head of H M Diplomatic Service 1964–65. Provost of Eton, 1965–77.  President of MCC, 1973–74. Married, 1935, Anne Catherine ('Nancy') Barstow.

Cadogan, Sir Alexander George Montagu (1884–1968). Diplomat. Married, 1912, Lady Theodosia Acheson. Ambassador to China, 1935–1936; Deputy Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 1936–1937; Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 1938–1946; Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 1946–1950; Chairman of the BBC, 1952–1957.

Cadogan, Sir Edward (1880–1962). Politician and historian. Brother of Alexander Cadogan. Conservative MP for Reading, Finchley, and Bolton between 1922 and 1945.

Caesar, Gaius Julius (100–44 BC). Roman general, politician and author.

Calder-Marshall, Arthur (1908–1992), Biographer, novelist and essayist.

Calvert, Phyllis, née Phyllis Hannah Bickle (1915–2002). Act