Hugh Arnold-Forster (August 1855-March 1909)

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

A banquet at Windsor Castle in November 1904 revealed Rosebery’s increasingly morose and distracted state. Strangely for one so well versed in social etiquette, he failed to read his invitation carefully and appeared in black tie rather than full evening dress…During the course of the banquet Rosebery talked to H.O. Arnold-Forster, the Unionist War Secretary, who left this vivid account: ‘He asked me how I was and I said I was very well but that I did not know that I had any right to be alive. He took this very seriously and with a face like an undertaker, he asked me, “Is life worth living?” I said on the whole it was but he was not at all content and kept repeating his question with great solemnity. He had evidently been thinking a great deal about it.’ ”

From the website of Westminster Abbey:

“On the south wall of St Margaret’s Church Westminster is a marble tablet, with a head in relief, to the memory of Hugh Arnold-Forster, politician, lawyer and author. This is signed by the sculptor James Havard Thomas, 1909. The inscription reads: 

To the Glory of God and in memory of His servant Hugh Oakeley Arnold-Forster, Privy Councillor, Member of Parliament, financial secretary to the Admiralty 1900, Secretary of State for War 1902. Born August 19 1855 Died March 12 1909. This memorial of a life devoted to his country is placed by some of his friends in the church of the House of Commons

The dates are actually given in Roman numerals and the wording is a little faint.

He was a son of William Arnold, who worked in the Punjab province of India and was a son of the famous Dr Thomas Arnold of Rugby School and brother of poet Matthew Arnold, and his wife Frances (Hodgson). Born in Dawlish in Devon he spent his early years in India but came back to England on the death of his mother. His father then died on his way back home so he was brought up by his aunt who was married to politician William Edward Forster. After attending Oxford university he changed his surname to Arnold-Forster and became a lawyer and private secretary to his adopted father. He married Mary Story-Maskelyne and they had four sons. He travelled extensively in Europe and Russia and later joined the publishing firm of Cassells. For a few years before his death he leased one of the houses in the Westminster Abbey garden. His grave is at Wroughton in Wiltshire.”

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