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SPAIN: A Napoleonic Clock

My stays in Spain from 1931 to 1936 determined my career. Madrid during the Republic was tense and generally unpleasant. The one glowing memory I have of that period was my friendship with Ernest Grimaud the Caux, the correspondent of The Times of London. He was extraordinarily warm and kind; I often had meals in his apartment at Zurbarán 9. He gave me a Spanish clock from the period of Napoleon and his brother José. The clock is illustrated with a painting of them riding across the hills, with a skirmish taking place in the foreground. When I was evacuated after the first siege of Madrid, students broke into my room and stole my valuable books. I assumed they had also stolen the clock. I visited Madrid a few years after the Civil War and called on the de Caux. During World War II he had been interned in Biarritz, where he had a home, by the Nazis, but he was his old cheerful self, whereas his wife was obviously deeply affected; she scarcely recognized me. I told him how sad I was to have lost the clock, but he produced it. He had gone to the Residencia de Estudiantes and recovered iit before students ransacked my room. It now occupies an honored place in my Stanford home. It works. but the chimes are so noisy that I do not keep it going.

I told about this in my online memoir From Monarchy to Civil War ( It was a pleasant surprise to receive an e-mail from François Eliet, who had read the book and who is the son of Maureen McGuire-Etiat, the niece of Ernest Grimaud de Caux; she was a great friend of his. She called him "Nesto". She has sent me a photograph of him, his wife, and his sister in Biarritz in the early 50s I tell this story to illustrate how e-mail links the world in such surprising ways.

Ronald Hilton - 1/29/03