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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Meredith & His Friends

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Meredith & His Friends is an article published in the Daily Mail on 5 november 1912, including a part of a speech by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Conan Doyle tell an anecdote about George Meredith during a speech at the annual dinner in aid of the Newsvendors' Benevolent and Provident Institution.

Meredith & His Friends

Daily Mail (5 november 1912, p. 7)

Sir A. Conan Doyle's Anecdotes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, speaking at the annual dinner in aid of the Newsvendors' Benevolent and Provident Institution at the De Keyser's Royal Hotel, London, last night, gave some personal reminiscences of George Meredith.

In the years 1894-5 Sir Arthur visited the novelist at his residence at Boxhill, in Surrey. "When I went there I inadvertently offended him in one way. He met me at the door. He told me he had Just come from the top of a high hill near the park. I expressed my amazement. He asked me why I was so surprised and I said I thought he was an invalid. He said that would be the sort of compliment one would pay an octogenarian.

"Subsequently a maidservant brought in a jelly or a blancmange, and Meredith, looking at the shivering lump, expressed himself in a characteristic phrase — just such a one as he would put in the mouth of one of his characters. He said, 'The jelly seems as treacherous as a Trojan horse.'

"Meredith was fond of a bottle of wine, but his state of health when I saw him forbade him taking any intoxicant. He had a bottle covered wall cobwebs brought up for me, and asked if I could drink some. I said I did not think there would be any difficulty. I finished the bottle, and Meredith expressed his gratification, saying that on one occasion someone only drank one glass of a bottle he had opened and he had the mortification of seeing the rest of the contents wasted.

"Although unsectarian, Meredith nevertheless thought prayer was a very necessary thing. He did not believe in addressing Almighty God as one's uncle, but he believed in acknowledging a higher force than oneself."

Sir Frank Newnes was the chairman at the dinner. The subscriptions to the fund amounted to £1,400.