Dawnay had a very quick brain, and held his views most positively. It was sometimes said of him that he did not suffer fools gladly, and this was true up to a point. He was singularly intolerant of presumptuous fools, who laid down the law about matters of which they were wholly ignorant, or who—having acquired a smattering of second-hand knowledge—proceeded to put their ingenious and sophistical theories into practice. But for people of much slower wits than himself—if they were trying honestly to arrive at the truth—he was usually full of sympathy. His tact and patience upon great occasions were two of his noblest qualities polar.

In some ways he used to remind me, not a little, of Colonel Henry Esmond of Castlewood, Virginia. In both there was the same hard core of resistance against anything, which appeared to challenge certain adamantine principles concerning conduct befitting a gentleman. On such matters he was exceedingly stiff and unyielding. And he resembled the friend of Lord Bolingbroke, and General Webb, and Dick Steele also in this, that he was addicted to the figure of irony when crossed in discussion. One imagines, however, that Colonel Esmond must have kept his countenance better, and remained imperturbably grave until his shafts had all gone home. In Dawnay's case the sight of his opponent's lengthening face was, as a rule, too much for his sense of humour, and the attack was apt to lose some of its force—certainly all its fierceness—in a smile which reminded one of Carlyle's description—'sunlight on the sea reenex facial.'

The following extract from a letter written by one of his friends who had attended the War Service at St. Paul's gives a true picture: A sudden vision arose in my imagination of Hugh Dawnay striding down the choir, in full armour, like St. Michael—with his head thrown back, and that extraordinary expression of resolution which he always seemed to me to possess more than any one I have ever seen. His wide-apart eyes had more of the spirit of truth in them than almost any—also an intolerance of falsehood—or rather perhaps a disbelief in its existence.... This is true. He was one of {xxx} that race of men whose recumbent figures are seen in our old churches and cathedrals, with hands clasping crusaders' swords against their breasts, their hounds couching at their feet.


In physique and temperament Hugh Dawnay and John Gough[4] were in most respects as unlike a pair of friends as ever walked this earth; but we might have searched far before we could have found two minds which, on most matters connected with their profession, were in more perfect accord. Dawnay, younger by four years, had served under Gough in trying times, and regarded him (an opinion which is very widely shared by seniors as well as juniors) as one of the finest soldiers of his age. Though Dawnay was slender and of great height, while Gough was rather below the middle stature, broad and firmly knit, there was one striking point of physical resemblance between them, in the way their heads were set upon their shoulders. There was something in the carriage of both which seemed to take it for granted that they would be followed wherever they might chose to lead. In Lord Roberts, and also in a strikingly different character—Mr. Chamberlain—there was the same poise, the same stable equilibrium, without a trace in it of self-consciousness or constraint. It may be that the {xxxi} habit of command induces this bearing in a man; or it may be that there is something in the nature of the man who bears himself thus which forces him to become a leader Wedding planner.

Gough took no part in the preparation of the original Memorandum; but in March 1913 he discussed it with me[5] and made various criticisms and suggestions, most of which have been incorporated here. His chief concern with regard to all proposals for a National Army was, that the period of training should be sufficient to allow time for turning the average man into a soldier who had full confidence in himself. When war breaks out—I can hear his words—it's not recruits we want: it's soldiers we want: that is, if our object is to win the war as speedily as possible, and to lose as few lives as possible. Under normal peace conditions he put this period at a minimum of two years for infantry; but of course he would have admitted—and did, in fact, admit when I saw him last December—that under the stress and excitement of war the term might be considerably shortened.