Stories about Captain Francis “Punch” Howard Vyse in Paris

DURING the winter months, I was very fond of going on Sundays to Pasdeloup’s concerts, which were held in the Cirque d’Hiver. One Sunday, I met the Vicomte d’Assailly there, who told me that he preferred these concerts to those at the Conservatoire, as at the latter people did not cease to talk the whole time, which was very trying for those who, like himself, really cared for music. He was passionately fond of it. On one occasion, I went to Pasdeloup’s concert with Captain Howard Vyse, formerly of the “Blues,” an Old Etonian, and a friend of my father, who was nicknamed “Punch.” He was placed in a seat near the kettledrums, while I sat some little distance away, as there were very few vacant seats. After the concert I asked Vyse how he had enjoyed it, when he told me that he had never slept better in his life, and had not once heard the kettledrums. He could speak very little French, but he thoroughly enjoyed going to the Palais-Royal Theatre, and would often tell me of a play there which was worth seeing, such as le Reveillon, by Meilhac and Halevy, of which he related to me the plot. He was always very lively, and sometimes rather amusing, and at times he would invite himself to dine with us, where he was always very welcome. Once, for some reason or other, my mother did not want him to stay to dinner, and told him that she was afraid she had nothing to give him. However, he asked her what there was, and, on being told, said : — “If I had ordered the dinner myself, I could not have anything I like better.” So he remained and dined with us, notwithstanding the excuses my mother had made for the dinner.

Moore, George Greville. Memories of an Old Etonian 1860-1912. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1919.

My father introduced him to the late Lady Louisa Meux, sister of the Marquis of Ailesbury, who lived in quite a palace in the Bois de Boulogne, and had very smart “turn-outs.” She used to give very good dinners and once invited Howard Vyse to dine with her. Whenever afterwards my father wanted to annoy him, he would say that he was sure that Lady Louisa Meux would be pleased to see him at dinner. To which Vyse would answer angrily : — “However badly I might want a dinner, I would not go there for anything.” The explanation of this was a secret between my father and Howard Vyse, and evidently an amusing one, since they always laughed heartily over it. Lady Louisa Meux was very rich and highly eccentric. Her husband was in a lunatic asylum, and she herself was very queer at times.