The Joyous Patriot (ePub)
Ralph Verney was born in 1879. His grandfather, Sir Harry Verne, had married as his second wife, Parthenope, Sister of Florence Nightingale, who was Ralph's Godmother. In 1900 he joined the Riffle Brigade and was sent to South Africa where the Boer War was then in progress. A dutiful son, he wrote regularly to his parents, describing every detail of his daily life. Fortunately these letters have survived and have now been edited for publication by Ralph's own son, David. Quite apart from the intrinsic interest of what the letters actually say, they have another rarer quality, in that they lay bare the standards by which a young man of aristocratic birth was then guided. Old-fashioned they may sound, but not a few still regret their passing. In 1907 Ralph became ADC to Lord Chelmsford, then Governor of Queensland, and two years later falls in love and marries Nita Walker, daughter of a distinguished Australian banker and politician. Now some of Nita's letters enliven the correspondence and soon a baby is on the way. So too is the First World War and Ralph finds himself back with his regiment in France, where he has what must, ironically, be regarded as the good fortune of the wounded. At the end of his first volume we leave him on the road to recovery and to India where he will shortly rejoin Lord Chelmsford.