Saturday, 14 February 2015

February 14: death and disaster for the British in Ottawa

On the evening of Saturday 14 February 1880 Governor General Lord Lorne, his wife Princess Louise, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, and the vice regal party travelling from Rideau Hall were involved in a sleigh accident. Control was lost of the horses, the sleigh overturned and dragged 400 yards. Louise suffered a concussion, bruising on the face, shock and a torn earlobe when her earring caught on the side of the sleigh. "It was a wonder her skull was not fractured".

Official reports played down the severity of the accident.

Twenty-eight years later, on Thursday 14 February 1918, Cecil Spring Rice, British Ambassador in Washington from 1912 to 1918, died of a heart attack at Rideau Hall following a day skiing, He penned the words to "I vow to thee my country" which Gustav Holst set to music to become perhaps the most instantly recognizable British patriotic anthem of the 20th century. He is buried at Beechwood Cemetery.

Here's another of his poems.
I gave you joy without compare,
With joy I filled your very soul;
I gave you all my wealth to share,
My wealth of love entire and whole. 
I gave you all my joy to share,
And yet a gift remained for you,
A thousand times more rich and rare --
I gave you all my sorrow too. 
I gave you grief beyond compare,
For you I filled the bitter cup;
With hope deceived and fierce despair,
You took it; and you drank it up. 
Now one in joy, in sorrow one,
I am your master, and your friend,
And what we have today begun,
A million ages shall not end.

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