Raymond Asquith on Julian Grenfell

5 Apr

I’ll have much more to say on the subject of both these men in coming weeks, but for now, as I head out the door, here’s a remarkable assessment of Grenfell by Asquith, who remembered him fondly from their time together at Balliol.

It was easy to idealize Julian, because superficially he seemed to be built on very simple lines.  One might have set him up in a public place as a heroic or symbolic figure of Youth and Force.  In reality he was far too intelligent and interesting to be a symbolic figure of anything.  His appetite for action was immense, but it was a craving of his whole nature, mind no less than body.  His sheer physical vigour, as everyone knows, was prodigious.  Perfectly made and perpetually fit he flung himself upon life in a surge of restless and unconquerable energy.  Riding, or rowing, or boxing, or running with his greyhounds, or hunting the Boches in Flanders, he ‘tired the sun with action’ as others have with talk.  His will was persistent and pugnacious and constantly in motion.  His mind, no less, was full of fire and fibre; lively, independent, never for a moment stagnating, nor ever mantled with the scum of second-hand ideas, violent in its movements but always moving, intemperate perhaps in its habit but with ‘the brisk intemperance of youth’.

Grenfell died in May of 1915; Asquith in September of 1916.


One Response to “Raymond Asquith on Julian Grenfell”


  1. More on Raymond Asquith, sort of | Wellington House - May 31, 2013

    […] Previously I posted a short meditation from Raymond Asquith on his erstwhile colleague Julian Grenfell, one of the war’s more militant poets.  Both men died in the war, much to the detriment of English letters, but I haven’t had much to say about Asquith himself just yet.  I hope to in time (he’s no end of interesting), but for the moment here’s another short snippet in the same spirit as the earlier post. […]

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