James at a Cricket Match
It was at my cottage, Point Hill as it is called, that Henry James made the acquaintance of Rye. He took it in the months when we were not there, and was here year after year, tended by a devoted manservant,1 whom we used to call Bardolph, after that rascal in Shakespeare whose ‘nose would light a torch in hell’. Bardolph was devoted to his master and was much exercised about his health, because Henry James in those days used to go out on his bicycle and return in a state of complete deliquescence, for he was no athlete and quite unused to any form of active exercise; indeed, later on, when he had bought Lamb House, it was his custom to take the train to Hastings in the afternoons in order to get exercise by walking up and down the nice paved promenade. During our annual cricket weeks at Rye he used to come on to the ground, but he always used to sit in the tent talking to the ladies with his back to the cricket, probably thinking the game too absurd to be worth the attention of serious people. On the other hand, he used to subscribe to the cricket club, and my final impression of Henry James was that, though his brain was subtle enough when he had a pen in his hand, in the ordinary affairs of life he was just a kindly, generous innocent. He became so enamoured of Rye that he bought Lamb House and settled there.