Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. Below is an excerpt from his memoirs as published in one of the books in our library ‘Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West’ -1905.
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Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – Autumn Cruise
He never missed an autumn cruise with the Prince of Wales in the ‘Osborne’ at Cowes, and his face was well known in the clubhouse and on the lawn. Nothing could exceed the kindness of his Royal Host in looking after his guest. On one occasion the German Emperor, coming on board the ‘Osborne’ from the ‘Hohenzollern,’ wished to see Harry. It was at a time when he slept – ‘his custom always of an afternoon’ – and the Prince, going down on tiptoe, refused to have him disturbed.
Walking with his niece, he met two young ladies who bowed to him. He seized them by the hand, saying how kind they were to recognise an old fellow, and kissed them both. His niece remonstrated, but he said: ‘I thought they were some more nieces – at any rate, they were devilish pretty girls!’
One day at Cowes it came on to rain in torrents, and two of his real nieces took shelter under a verandah of the hotel, which had been reserved for a certain rich stockbroker, who turned them out into the wet. Harry, hearing of this, was furious, and started out with his nephew to demand an apology he had an umbrella in his hand saying: ‘ I am too old to strike him, but I can poke his eye out.’ The stockbroker said: ‘How was I to know they were ladies?’ ‘Damn you, sir,’ said Harry, ‘don’t you know a thoroughbred from a carthorse? If you don’t, I’ll teach you.’
When paying a visit to the Royal yacht, the Prince of Wales told Queen Victoria that Harry was going to publish his recollections. Her Majesty called him up, and said: ‘I hear, Sir Harry, you are going to publish your recollections. I shall be glad to read them.’ ‘No, your Majesty,’ he said; ‘I fear they will not be fit reading for a lady.’ And yet, as everybody knows, there is not a sentence in them which might not have been read aloud at Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for Young Ladies on Chiswick Mall without calling up a blush on their innocent faces.
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