Author Topic: Hugh Macnaghten’s Eton Letters  (Read 1377 times)


  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 301
    • View Profile
Hugh Macnaghten’s Eton Letters
« on: April 26, 2022, 07:09:12 PM »
Letters from Hugh Macnaghten’s 1921 book “Eton Letters: 1915-1918” mentioning George, Michael, and Nico, but he mentions Michael the most. Macnaghten was their housemaster at Eton.

These two letters mention George.

June 1916
“Of the House cricket XI who were in for the final in 1912, six have been killed—George Davies, Oliver and Chris Lawrence, Wendover, Arthur Cartmell, and John Grahame Stewart, and most of the others have been wounded.”

August 1916
“The roses have been wonderful, but they want the electric lights of that evening four or five years ago, on George Davies’ birthday, when we had the Barrie play.”

I wonder which play it was?

This one mentions Nico.

October 1916
“There are four new boys—two of them, Davies and Baldwin, have had brothers before them;”

November 1916
I don’t know if this is talking about Michael, but it sounds like it could be him.

“A very delightful boy in A.C. I, sitting opposite me to-day, said at breakfast: ‘Don’t you think we might have some decent preacher? We have had Eton masters the last four Sundays.’ He went on to say that Catullus’s poem on the dead sparrow nearly made him sick, so you see that Philistinism is not quite extinct. Incidentally, he is one of the best boys who have ever been in the House.”

The letters from now on for sure mention Michael.

March 1916
“I set my division an English essay to-day: ‘What makes a gentleman?’”

“By the by, I forgot another sentence in the essay; it was this: ‘When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?’ The man who wrote this thought that Adam was no gentleman, in the ordinary sense of the term, because he was not a nobleman. But he was wrong. Adam was no gentleman, but not because he was not Lord Adam, but because he gave his wife away in the matter of the apple. That was written by a boy now at m’tutor’s. Pretty good, I think.”

Date Unknown.
“We have two playing for the second XI to-day— Martin Holland and Davies; but I haven’t much hopes of either being in the first. Why is it everyone is so bored with cricket at Eton?”

June 1917
“I never enjoyed Speeches quite so much as on this 4th of June.”

“…Michael Davies as Sneer one of the very best performances I have ever seen.”

“…Davies plays for the second XI, chiefly because he can’t resolve to seem keen on cricket, and for the XI absorption, real or apparent, is a sine qua non [Latin for “without which not”].

In this letter, Macnaghten wrote about a time his dog got loose at Eton at night, and on the same night I guess some students also got in trouble for turning on a light during bedtime. Michael wrote about these events in a poem that got put into the Eton College Chronicle. Someone else actually posted the whole poem on this forum.

February 1918
“…’illegality of light,’ the E.C.C. calls it, in a very funny poem written by Michael Davies, captain of m’tutor’s, who is one of the editors. I hope you liked, in the same poem, ‘unregulated tress’ for passi capilli, and ‘obverted palms’ for manibus supinis.”

March 1918
“There’s the cricket ball to-morrow, which Davies may win.”

“Davies major won the cricket ball after twelve, with 97 yards…”

July 30, 1918
“You will see we won the cricket cup.”
“The final was most exciting.”
“We were a very weak batting side, but Davies and Clutterbuck bowled magnificently.”

October 1918
“Unhappily Michael Davies has to leave after St. Andrew’s Day to go to Bushey, so we have no chance of the House cup, unless a plague falls on other Houses and spares us.”

For the full book, here’s the link: