'The front part of the house was modern; it stood on a platform raised above the large formal garden before it. The boundary of the garden was a terrace-walk looking down on the river and the town. There were no steamers, or very few, in those days, and of course no railway; and the long strings of flat-bottomed barges with their great white square sails that carried the merchandise from Nantes up the river when the wind served made a striking feature in the scene.
'There was a wine-press attached to the rambling old house, and the proprietor made his wine from the vineyards every autumn. There was also an old billiard-table, and we used to do a little wine-pressing of our own by putting the bunches of fat black grapes into the net pockets and squeezing the juice into a jug. The fruit of all sorts was magnificent; the greengages, the muscat grapes on the face of the cliff, the gooseberries, strawberries, currants, and in autumn the walnuts, were splendid objects for youthful greediness, and are matters of life-long remembrance to me.
'The grounds and gardens were under the care of a family who resided in a cottage and bore the name of Diète. There were the Père and Mère Diète, good old sabot-wearing peasants who worked in and overlooked the vineyards, while their son Martin attended to the garden. We had a coachman called Joseph, an old cavalry soldier who interested us children with his tales of the siege of Antwerp by the French in 1832, and particularly by his account of a cavalry charge in which he took part. The noise of its galloping, he used to say, was like the tonnerre de Dieu. His contempt of the infantry soldier, whom he spoke of as le piou-piou, was characteristic of the attitude of the dragoon towards the foot-soldier in all armies.
'Augustus and I learnt to swim in the Loire. We used to go out in a punt with a maitre de natation, who hooked us on to a pole by a belt round our waists, and so supported us in the water till we could keep ourselves afloat. We also amused ourselves by sailing a toy-boat in the lagunes and back-waters of the river. One day while so occupied a French lad of about fifteen or sixteen began throwing stones at our cutter. Augustus, who was taller than I and much more daring, rushed at the Frenchman, and after a struggle with him was thrown on the sand. The French lad, who had the best of the wrestle, improved his advantage by taking up handfuls of sand and rubbing it into Augustus's eyes while he was lying helpless underneath. A stout stick the French boy had brought with him had fallen in the struggle under Augustus. I, seeing the position, dragged the stick out from under the combatants, and began belabouring the Frenchman with all my might. This soon converted our defeat into a victory, and the enemy, extricating himself from his antagonist, fled from the field. The lad's father then appeared on the scene and relieved himself by a torrent of abuse. In those days the memories of the old struggles between England and France were still alive among the populace, and we were constantly followed by gamins shouting after us "Goddam Anglish" and other contemptuous expressions.
'During our residence in Touraine Augustus and I went with Mr. Nicholl, the tutor, to visit the old castles of the neighbourhood, and I remember going to Loches, Chinon, Chenonceaux, and Chambord, travelling in the little country diligences.
'In the winter evenings at the "Capucins" my father used to read Walter Scott's novels to us, and I recall how we looked forward with excitement to the time of resumption of the stories. "Quentin Durward" was especially interesting to us, as the scene of a great part of his adventures was within sight of our own house, Plessis les Tours being just across the river.
'On the whole my life at Tours was the part of my youth to which I look back with the greatest pleasure. It has tinged my whole existence with a great love of France and until the experience of late years showed me the childish petulance in political affairs of her people I had a sincere admiration and affection for them.
'The time came at last when I had to go to school. I was eleven years old when my father took me to Paris, to a school for English boys kept by a M. Rosin, a Swiss. It was established in a fair-sized house with grounds round it, something like a superior villa at Putney, near the Arc de Triomphe and to the north of the Champs Elysées. It was distinguished as No. 15 Avenue Châteaubriand, Quartier Beaujon, and has long since disappeared. The whole region has become the site of the fine hotels of the magnates of finance who have since the 'Forties peopled the neighbourhood of the Champs Elysées. When I was at school, the Bois de Boulogne was a scrubby waste. The only road of importance through it from the Arc de Triomphe was that to Neuilly.
'A few sorry hacks and donkeys stood saddled for hire at the fringe of the Bois. There were no houses of any size farther up the Champs Elysées than the Rond Point, and near the Arc was a waste occupied by the earth thrown out of the road in the levelling operations of its construction. I remember it well, for it was on the heaps resulting from the excavations that we stood one bitterly cold day in the winter of 1840 from 8 a.m. to 1.30 to see the funeral of the great Napoleon pass through the arch on its way down the Champs Elysées to his burial-place in the crypt of the Invalides.
'Augustus followed me to the same school. I do not think I can have been there more than eighteen months, but it was long enough to have the recollection of the journeyings in the diligence to and from Tours at Christmas and at midsummer. -Very happy migrations they were on the way home, and very much the reverse on the return to school.
'In the winter my father and mother used to come to Paris, and take an apartment for a time in the Hotel Mirabeau in the Rue de la Paix. And every Saturday while they were there we passed the afternoon and the following day with them, sleeping in the hotel. There was not much of the present luxury of washing at schools in those days. At Rosin's once in three weeks we were marched off to some bains where we could enjoy a good wash in a warm bath and a surreptitious cake of chocolate, provided by the garçon de bains for a consideration. So there were great washings on the Saturday nights at the hotel, superintended by our dear mother, after our return from the "Français," where we were always taken on the Saturday evenings for a lesson in French. Rachel was just coming into celebrity, and we sat through the long and, to us, unexciting Racine plays in which she appeared, rather sleepy after a dinner at a restaurant and an afternoon of exceptional interest, driving about the streets. Those strictly classical plays, in which the three unities are rigidly observed, were very tedious to us boys, and the prospect of an ice at Tortoni's on the way home was more engrossing, I am ashamed to own, than the passionate scenes rendered by the great actress.
'I remember while at Rosin's going sometimes to spend the afternoon and dine at Lord Elgin's, the hero of the Elgin Marbles acquisition. He seemed to me then a very old man, and always sitting at a writing-table in a corner of a large room in their house in the Faubourg St. Germain, while his daughters performed the up-hill duty of trying to amuse me, a stupid, shy boy of eleven. I was also taken out by other friends of my father's, and can recall the intense sleepiness following an unwonted dinner at seven o'clock, before the time came for being packed off in a fiacre to the Avenue Chateaubriand.
'But the time came when Augustus and I, both destined for the army, had to prepare, he for Woolwich and I for Sandhurst. It was decided that we should go to a great preparatory school of those days for the military colleges of the Queen's and East India Company's services, kept by Messrs. Stoton and Mayor at Wimbledon. The school was a large one, and would be thought a rough one now. The only washing-place was a room on the ground floor, with sinks and leaden basins in them, to which we came down in the morning to wash our hands and faces. There was very little taught but mathematics for the army boys, and classics for those destined for Haileybury, the East India Company's college for the Indian Civil Service. Copley Fielding taught some boys drawing and water-colour painting. There was also a French class, presided over by a poor little old Frenchman, M. Dell. I never in my life met a being to whom the term "master" was less applicable. The French master at the schools of sixty years ago was not a happy person. He was despised of all men and boys, and his position was one of such inferiority that no man of any power or spirit was likely to fill it. Stoton allowed no prize for the French class, and it has been one of the most touching incidents of my life that the poor old Frenchman gave me a little prize which he paid for himself. It was a small edition of Florian's fables. I had it with me for years, but where it has gone to now I know not. It is perhaps buried somewhere among the increased belongings that inheritances and a settled life have accumulated about me; I wish I could find it again. Augustus and I were probably the only boys that had been in France, and certainly the only ones with any pretension to speaking French, and I think the good little man had a predilection for us among the crowd of sneering John Bulls - hating him, his language, and his country - that it was his hard fate to teach. It would be a great delight if I could perform an anachronistic miracle and find him as he then was, to give him a hundred times the value of his poor little book.
'From Stoton's, at the age of fourteen, I went to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, and Augustus must have gone to the Military Academy at Woolwich about a year later. My father took me to the college, and we slept the night before the entrance examination at the "Tumble-down Dick" inn at Farnborough, which was then the nearest station. The examination was a farce, of course. I suppose they ascertained that one could read and write, and the doctor satisfied himself you were not deformed, but I don't believe it went much farther.' (Here the fragment ends.)