Elliot Crawshay-Williams 1879 – 1962

Elliot Crawshay-Williams 1879 - 1962

The Colonel Author dies at 82 (11/05/1962)

Lieut-Col. Elliot Crawshay-Williams, the Welsh author, soldier, politician and sportsman, formerly of Plas Coed-y-Mwstwr, Bridgend, died yesterday at Deal Hospital. He was 82. He lived in Kent for the last 28 years.

Col. Crawshay-Williams was commissioned in the artillery in 1900, and after two years’ service in England he went to India for two years, and was awarded a medal for special service in the Grand Durbar of 1903.

He resigned his commission to enter politics and shortly afterwards accompanied Lord Curzon in the Viceroy’s expedition up the Persian Gulf, which provided the basis for his first book. “Across Persia.”

A Liberal

He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an international lawn tennis player, M.P. for Leicester, private secretary to Sir Winston Churchill, when he was Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Lloyd George, when Chancellor of the Exchequer.

He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford.

He was a member of the National Liberal Club, founded by his father, who was a Liberal M.P. for South Glamorgan. The family mansion, Coed-y-Mwstwr, was until a short time ago, an approved school of which Col. Crawshay-Williams was chairman

He was also a magistrate.


He wrote more than 40 books and 13 plays. His novels were sometimes considered shocking and two of his plays were refused a license by the Lord Chamberlain.

“But it has never been my intention to shock,” he once said “My works are, I hope, entertaining, but I should be sorry to be classed only as an amusing writer.”

Col. Crawshay-Williams who had been blind since 1959 married three times, his first two marriages ended in divorce.

Plas Coed-y-Mwstwr House

Plas Coed-y-Mwstwr House

Sales by Auction 23/06/1945
Next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, at 12 Noon

By Direction of Colonel E. Crawshay-Williams. Plas Coed-y-Mwstwr, Coychurch, Bridgend (about 1 mile from village and Bridgend-Pontypridd bus route)

Stephenson and Alexander (F.A.I.), in conjunction with John David, Watts, and Morgan (F.A.I.), will sell by Auction on Premises on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, June 27,28, and 29.
Contents of Residence comp.: Furnishings of reception rooms, 15 bedrooms, incl. several axc. Bedroom Suites; Wardrobes: Chest of drawers; Linen Chests; Dressing Pairs; Linen and other Cupboards; Brass and other Bedsteads: Bedroom Ware; Grandfather, Wall and Other Clocks; 2 Mah. Ext. Dining Tables; Solid Oak Sideboards; China Cabinets; Drawing and Dining Room Suites; &c, &c.

Also for Sale by tender: baby Cottage Grand No. 10 Piano by John Broadway and Sons; 3 Marconi, K.B. and Pye Battery Wireless Sets. View Monday, June 25, from 10.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Order of Sale: Wednesday: Contents of Bedrooms and Landinas. Thursday: Reception-rooms, Lounge, Silver and Billiard Table. Friday: Dining-room, Kitchen Utensils China and Glass Ware. Sale Each Day at 12 noon prompt. Purchasers of £1 and upwards must produce their Identity Cards. No Catalogues issued or Refreshments available. Further Particulars apply Auctioneers at Cardiff, Cowbridge, and Bridgend.

Candid lifer story of Former M.P. 31.10.1935
“Simple story,” by Elliot Crawshay-Williams
By James A Walker

As a descendant of William Crawshay, who built Cyfarthfa Castle Merthyr, and as one who long made his home near Bridgend, the writer of “accidental autobiography” has had certain personal, contacts with this district which invest his life story with a special interest. He was at one time, it may be recalled, one of the rising hopes of the Liberal party when he represented Leicester with Mr Ramsey Macdonald, and received the support of Mr Lloyd George and others who predicted for him a brilliant political career.

He began under the most favourable auspices, and after being at Eton and Oxford he found himself long before he was 30 happily married, the M.P. of a great industrial constituency, with gifts and graces which seemed to augur a career in which the most coveted prizes would be won.

Today he said goodbye to all that. He writes as one who feels his life has been wrecked and mutilated by the inexorable Mrs Grundy, because he has been twice divorced and has thus been debarred from continuing his political career. He relates in detail the story of these costly experiences without bitterness, and with a candour which will cause many readers to regard the result as an essay in exhibitionism, if not “ought-not-to-be-ography.” They will ask: What purpose can be served by washing all this dirty linenagain in public? What general significance can the author’s matrimonial ventures have for the general public?

Mr Crawshay-William replies: “My code is a very different one from that of the libertine, and though it has so mutilated my life I have an idea that it may yet come to be considered pardonable, normal, or even (wild idea!) moral. The time will, possibly, arrive when it will be considered more wrong that a man should be debarred from his career because he has fallen in love with his neighbour’s wife than that he should actually fall in love with that lady. Morals, in, after all, but the custom of one’s country and the opinion or one’s time”

In another field

Mr Crawshay-Williams has shared the fate of Mr H.G Well’s “New Machiavelli” and for a similar breach of the moral code: but, as he has found, there are other fields that politics for the exercise of his gifts. As a writer and dramatist he has already met with much success, and no one can read his autobiography without feeling that he should find increasingly in such work ample consolation for his early grievous disappointments.

South Wales readers will be particularly interested in the example of unintentional plagiarism into which he fell in connection with the old Glamorgan legend of “Squire Morgan’s Will.” Morgan had died without making a will, and his relatives, “in order to carry out his intentions” of leaving his property to them, persuaded a remoter relative to impersonate the dead man. Instead of doing what was expected of him the impersonator left “his” property to himself. Mr Crawshay-Williams seized on the story and made it the basis of his play “E. and O.E,” not, however, before he had learned that Jose Levy that the same theme had been embodied in a French play, “Le Testament de Pere leleu.”

After some hesitation he was persuaded not to be deterred by this disclosure and to finish his play, which proved a success. Several critics, however, said it was plain where Mr Crawshay-Williams had got his plot. It was, they said, straight from Puccini’s “GlanniSchich!” And so it was. “There it was again, the impersonator in the dead man’s shoes leaving the property to himself!” No fewer than three dramatists had thus exploited all unconsciously the story of Squire Morgan’s Will.

Poems by Elliot Crawshay-Williams:

We quite folk 20.06.1935

We quite folk, civilians of life,
Who ask but this; leave to pursue unplagued
Our significant private wars with want
Of trouble or disease; leave to ensue
Unhampered each his individual aim,
Serve unmolested his particular god,
(Serving, thus man); or who but crave the boon
To live out what is left of life in peace,
Un-noted harmless, unaspiring null,
Dawdling in country lanes or city streets:-
We quite folk, what can we do to-day?
What shield have we against the general hand?
What safe asylum from mankind gone mad?
Is there no corner sheltered from the storm?
Of hate and folly and beats o’er the world?
No sanctuary inviolate to the rape
Of rough dictator, fenced off from the hooves-
The heedless hooves-of the driven herd?
Or is it now that we, we quite folk,
Are left but one sour hope, one grim retreat,
The last unfruitful hermitage, the grave?

To a Bumble-Bee 27.05.1936

Bewildered bee!
Buzzing against the pane,
Thwarted, and yet again
Butting (you silly ass)
Against the glass,
O, poor exasperated bumble!
Who cannot see
That it is a foolishness to grumble,
And mumble,
And fumble,
And stumble,
And tumble,
And beat your wings and, generally, make a fuss;
Really, you’re quite ridiculous:-
And how like me!

Bombs in Bethlehem 13.06.1936
(“Bombs were thrown om Bethlehem.” Press report, June 10, 1936)

If Christ came back report to take
Of how His work went forth
What answer could we worldling’s make?
We’d tell Him, in the North,
Of little Christian children taught
(“Suffer they come to me!”)
To bow the knee to Juggernaut.
Then from the South should He
Learn how, forestalling Africa’s rains,
His followers won the day
With tanks and poison gas and planes-
What, think you, would Christ say?
Would He be quite content to hear?
Of a world ruled by force and fear-
And Bombs in Bethlehem?
For near two thousand years Christ’s word
Has called for peace and love;
Preaching a ploughshare, not a sword;
No eagle, but a dove.
There surely must be something wrong
When we are told, after so long
Of Bombs in Bethlehem.

January 07.01.1937

Oh, we are on the up-wave and the days are growing longer,
Firmer grows, the light, and the sun stronger;
Mists are to some and dreary days of rain,
Snow and the frost and wet sleet again;
But we are on the up-wave and days are growing longer,
Warmer grows the light and the sun stronger.
Back there behind us are the days of going down,
Days of cold death, that vanished with a frown.
Now glints a smile on the face of wild weather
(You and I have seen it, you and I together).
Gone are the days of ever going down,
Days of cold death, framed in a frown.
We are on the up-wave to the Spring’s soft greetings,
The deep womb of earth is astir with strong meanings;
Death has the old year, and hope brings the new;
All the world is here for us and I am here for you.
Glad let us voyage to the Spring’s greenings;
Life is on the up-wave, sweet with strong meanings.

On holding is wife’s hand 25.05.1937

Here, little had! Lie close with my own
And let our two warmths meet. Dear little hand
That’s so familiar-soft; that I have known
All these calm; years; whose touch I understand
Better that words, and whose each line to-day
I’d draw by heart; dear little hand, lie here!
Do you remember that first time you lay
Close, warm, and trembling with a happy fear
In this of mine? Ah, love! Why cannot we
Recapture that fine passion? Why must all
The magic thrill of early ecstasy
Go-and forever? Held here in my thrall
This little captive flutters not, nor are
The imprisoning fingers tense to guard their treasure;
There is no timorousness, no doubt, to mar
(nor to exalt) this warm and placid pleasure,
Well, be it so! Instead of passion’s fire
There’s something surer, something more divine
Yet-Oh! For that lost touch which could inspire
The thrill we felt when first you hand touched mine

Baby David 06.06.1938

Baby David lying there
With serene unconscious air,
Little helpless thoughtless thing,
What will life we’ve given you bring?
See! Your tiny childish hands
Closed, while you’re in mystery-lands;
What the deeds that they will do
When they make your fate for you?
Will you bless or will you curse
That, for better or for worse,
Little unresisting mite,
We have brought you from the night?
When the life you’ve begun
To its unknown end has run,
Will it have been happy? Oh!
Baby David, we hope so.

If ghosts there be 01.12.1939

What wealth of ghosts-if ghosts there be-00
Must wanly watch the world to-day!
The ghosts that died for you and me,
The ghost that we betray.
If other ghosts shall follow these
And join their brothers where they wait
Sent there by our neglect to ease
The earlier errors of our State,
Not once again must they despair
In that dim region. Not again.
Must they be able, watching there!
To murmur, “We have died in Vain.”
Not this time must our dead men die
To free the world from hate and fear
And yet o’er final victory
Those two black devils domineer
As resolute must we remain!
That victory bring true redress;
That peace renounce revenge and greed
Any break the ground for bliss to be,
Nor lay up in some slumbering seed
Grim harvest for posterity
So may we shrive the sins which drew!
On man this common punishment
Bring hope to the world anew,
And to those watching ghosts, content.

Morning (let in the light) 28.03.1942

On darken hearths and homes, on blacked-out places,
Let the receiving sun of heaven shine in,
To bring a tired smile to care-worn faces,
Pull down the screen, throw back the curtain span
For aching eyes all out-of-doors to scan,
Morning has come, the day begins again;
New life, new light, new hope can once more reign

Let in the light!

On darkened hearts, on all earth’s blacked-out races
Let wisdom, kindness and goodwill flood in
To end earth’s woes and wipe out war’s foul traces.
Tear down the barriers between man and man;
For peace, not strife; for love, not hatred plan.
Let morning come, earth’s day begin again;
And hope and light and joy enter their reign

To the Taff at Treforest 15.04.1942

Poor draggled daughter of the unsullied hills
Sad deflowered virgin, on whom save in scorn
No man can look, is there no heart that fills
With angry pity for your fate forlorn;
No voice to cry out on the ravishers
Who wreck your fresh young beauty; no remorse
That somewhere in their blunted conscience stirs;
No power your decent usage to enforce?
Ere this unlovely and unloving age
Wrought your pollution O! what must have been
The brave delight of your gay pilgrimage
From mossy height to plain and pasture green.
Would I were back with you in those dead days
Or with you in a day I shall not see
When nobler men shall walk in wiser ways
And you re-find your first young chastity

Youth asks 23.12.1942

They tell me shadowy fables of a Soul;
They whisper rumours of a Distant Goal;
They show ne naught; but, sightless wandering.
They bid me keep the Path, or lose the Whole
Lose all? and gain eternal Doom as well,
For, blind, not seeing what sight cannot tell?
They only murmur; “Strait the Path thou tread’st,
And if thou arrest-God has made a Hell.”
What! For my Wandering? – point the Goal to me!
And yet they say that God is good, who will
For God sent failings damn eternally!
If I am blind, then Who has bound my Eyes?
And if I wander. Who has hid the Prize
And went me straying in the Wilderness?
If it be God – then tell me no more Lies.

Age answers

VEX not your heart with fruitless Questionings
Nor seek to sound unfathomable Things.
Man cannot win to cloud-capped Mysteries
With leaden wits and senses without Wings.
Turn, then to Life; from your soul’s increase;
Against all Doubt, all Dread, and all Despair
Set this firm Faith – the End of all is Peace.

An old-fashioned fellow 25.05.1944

I’m only and old-fashioned fellow,
No doubt what I think is all rot;
These young folk are clever,
And I wasn’t ever;
They’re all up-to-date and I’m not

To them dancing’s common as walking;
No treat, as it once used to be.
All sorts and conditions
Of bards and musicians
Abound as the sands of the sea.

But I don’t think the dancing is dancing
The poetry seems not even verse;
What’s played by the band?
I cannot understand;
What I hear from the orchestra’s worse.

There’s more wit to-day and less wisdom;
More pleasure but not so much joy.
O God! For re-birth
To the peace and mirth
That was round me when I was a boy.

Still-I’m only an old-fashioned fellow
I daresay these young ones are right
And, whether or not,
The world won’t go to pot;
There’ll be morning when I’ve said good-night.

Waste 22.11.1944

DEEP in the midnight slime that paves the seas
Strange forms of birth, and live and rot away
None knows, none cares, in far Hesperides
Unvisited rich flowers and feathers gay
Waste they magnificence; – none knows, none cares
The dead moon, swinging, night by tireless night
Across the empty heaven buried bears
(Who knows? Who cares?) what histories of delight!
And in the strange and silent hearts of men
How many wonders – none to care or know-
Have secret being? – Oh God! They come, and then
Wasting their unavailing sweetness – go
None knows; none cares. A world is born and dies
And none to mark or mourn, its treasuries.

Porthcawl Concert 28.04.1945

Men and women from the Valleys
From a little lonely village
High among the hills,
Smart in Sunday clothes,
Quit for to-night of the mines and the moors
The curbs and the kitchens
Aneurin and Morgan and Llewellyn,
Gwilym Jones and Olwen Rhys
Come here to sing
Grave, intent
The Lost Chord. The Holy City
Old battered favourites; and then – Harlech!
Rich sonorous native words and the spirit of Wales
The platform fades away
The Sunday clothes are no matter,
The audience is not there
Instead – the Hills
The ancient winds, the sun
Grey rocks and immemorial turf.
Out to them, swept by sound,
Blind to all drabness’s of place and time
Reaches the heart.
Wales sings

The Dumb in Heart 09.07.1945

HEARTS ache no less because lips cannot speak;
Nay, hell’s more-hot when its fierce furies glow
Imprisoned within vent-less walls; and woe
Is often strongest when her cry is weak.
Pity the dumb, the dumb in heart, who strive
With mute and faltering tongue to loosen that pain
Whose frustrate tempest, sweeping back again.
Fans misery’s flagging flame once more alive
Pity, who can; for, sure, the doltish mob
Will walk their way in dull indifference,
Complacent creatures! To whose unripe sense
The surest sign of sorrow is a sob.
Pity and dumb in heart! That grief least dies
Which speaks not through the lips, but in the eyes.

Four Square 30.07.1945

I do not care
If that vain jade men call success
Look scorn upon my idleness
And turn elsewhere –
I do not care

I do not care
If worldly men and women glance
Upon my waywardness askance;
I do not care
My heart’s not there

I do not care
That with the rest I’m hurtling on
To old age, death, oblivion;
I do not care
Life is still rare

I do not care
For any blow of God and man
So I can keep, as keep I can,
The freshness of the fields and trees
The wine-like savour of seas,
The tumult of a spirit keen
Within a body firm and clean;
Strip all else bare,
I do not care;
I stand four-square

Once More 22.10.1944

ONCE more the thunder of the fighting dies
And all our eyes
Are bent on men that take the reins from those
Who battled in the deserts and the snows!
With but one object, victory; but one aim,
Peace that is peace in something more than name
Once more the peacemakers are here; and oh, once more
Here with minds focused not on peace, but war;
Planning not comradeship to end the reign
Of angry follies that drive men insane;
But plotting each to pounce on this, snatch that,
Bring those lands subject, give a tit for tat,
Acquire allies all guaranteed to fight
Whether the cause be rotten or be right;
In short, contriving that in the next war.
Their side shall be victorious once more.
Once more call all this happen – and but once;
For even the fondest fool, the dullest dunce
Can surely see that if these men now fall
Here is the end of man’s unhappy tale.
Down to destruction he and his are sent.
And failure closes God’s experiment

Those who die young 07.12.1945

GREIVE not for us
Death, who finds each man sometime, found us soon
Before our lives had reached their noon
In the tempestuous
Pulsating morning of our hopes and joys
To us yet lively girls and boys
Has come the end. With all the world that’s done
We rest. No more can sun,
Or wind, or love, or hate
Move our null senses. Fate
Has dropped the curtain ere the play was run,
Yet, we are spared
The drear down-going, the slow sure decay
Of strength, of hope, of courage
Our lives flared
Like meteors in life’s sky,
Then plunged into eternity.
That is the way to die,
We had the joy of life: we’re dead
Before the joy of life had sped.

Coed Y Mwstwr School 11.01.1947

The house was “home” to me
From its wide windows I have watched the mist
Lie like a white sea in the Vale below;
I have seen Devon by the sunrise kissed.
Standing quiet, alone. And now
There is no silence, no more solitude.
Day in, day out busily, merrily,
Young bodies move, young voices chatter. So
All is for good, and I am glad to know
That thus I am ensued
By youth and vigour; that there is note here
Some paunchy profiteer
Gazing upon my Vale with glazing eye.
Bless then, old house, your fresh young tenants. Give
Peace to them here and joy the while they live
Within your walls. Let them instead of me
Those outspread beauties from your windows see
One life for you is done;
Another is begun
But not again will you “home” to anyone.

The Silence in the House

There is a silence in the house
Where there was once the sound of your light laughter
And little noises of your moving feet
Soft rustlings and small sighing’s. O! my sweet
The empty silence that holds all things after
Your close familiar presence is withdrawn!
For silence comes up lonely with the dawn,
And silence dwells upon the dragging noon
And silence greets the solitary moon
Who brings the deeper silence of the night!
I enter each deserted room in turn
And silent stand amid the silence round.
Looking in places touched by my delight
So lately ah! So lately; trying to discern
Some rumpling of a cushion, or, on the ground,
A pin, a petal; that shall bring me back.
Something directly you to ease the black
Despair of your departure, and I wonder
In what strange places are your footsteps set
Now you have left me. Are you lonely yonder?
Do you remember? – or do you forget?
O God! The un-answering silence in the house!
North-East Coast 17.05.1952

LIKE dragons of a new and dirtier age
Huge furnaces belch their eternal fire
And as the sun swings higher
In his unending patient pilgrimage
In vain he tries to pierce the lowering pall
That hides from all
His god-like splendour. Through the fog
That masks the summer day
Woman and man and infant, horse and dog
Plod out their dingy lives. They work and play
In soot and stink, unblessed by heaven’s free air.
O’ershadowed by Colossi. Over there,
Along the beach
The little waves they whisper each to each:
“Hush, let us go! Oh, sister, let us go!”
“Before we lose our beauty. Do we not know?”
“Sweet seas of sunshine and soft winds? Oh, fly!”
Too late! For as day gutters in its socket
They come frail maidens all despoiled to die……….
But Mr Smith puts money in his pocket.

Faith 30.06.1952

LOOK deep enough, and in this scheme of things
There is no meaning. Man is born, expends
His paltry term, and is no more. Time flings.
To oblivion and futility his ends.
Race follows race, until some ultimate doom
Shall quench mortality and leave this scene
Parched, arid, silent, tenantless. To Whom
Will it then matter that mankind has been?
O, cruel farce! O, monstrous madness! Yet.
Look deeper. Scan the stars above. Gaze down
Upon the daisy. Mark the soul beset.
With horror, fighting upward. Note the crown
Of beauty upon beastliness. Take heart!
Such wonder and such glory their tale tell.
Though mortal mind rend faith and hope apart
There’s reason beyond reason
All is well

The March of Paradise 26.05.1954
“Nothing can stay the March to Paradise”

The path is upward
Surely. Yet there may come (say-some)
After this bell-ward rout
No sudden turn about
No bracing of the sinews of high doing,
From horror free at last,
Hell-fear over-past,
Man will (say they) to rise again he loth
Debased and wearied by down-going
He will invite new ruin, sow
Fresh seeds of woe,
Flame into stupid hate; on vengeance brood:
Covet but empty ease and sensuous sloth;
His leaders all intent to meet his mood.
Fate sent it be not so!
But grant the gravest even though
Man for a while founder in folly, when
The spirit is due time
Shall quicken him again to climb,
He’ll heave him clear, and, dusty, lumber on again.
The path is upward