Obituary, 1934

Charles Stewart Caine

SJ Southerton, FE Lacey, W Findlay, AJ Webbe, PF

Editor of Wisden's Almanack for eight years, Charles Stewart Caine died on April 15, almost on the eve of the cricket season. Just as in the case of his two predecessors, Charles and Sydney Pardon, his passing left a gap in the ranks of sporting journalism almost impossible to fill. The Pardons were both more brilliant writers about cricket, but it is questionable if either of them was so universally loved by his fellow pressmen, not only in Fleet Street, but throughout the whole of the newspaper community, or was regarded with quite the same measure of esteem as Stewart Caine. It could be said without question that Caine was one of the last surviving sporting writers of the old school who thought out their opinions knowing that their views appearing in print might influence the mind of the public. He did not possess in such a marked and happy degree that wonderful faculty so lavishly bestowed upon Sydney Pardon of expressing in a few simple well-chosen words exactly his meaning and what he desired to convey to his readers. But, like his life-long colleague, he was a great stickler for correct grammatical writing, and in just a similar degree he had a great abhorrence of saying anything unkind about anyone of whom he had to write.

No matter what his task--and he wrote with authority on many sporting subjects, but particularly cricket and football--Caine made it the invariable practice during all his journalistic career of well over fifty years to adhere to this principle. These ideas he carried out during his everyday life among his colleagues in his own office and in Fleet Street as a whole. To the young journalist striving to make a name for himself he was an inspiration, and, again like Sydney Pardon, whatever knowledge he possessed was freely at the disposal of anyone who sought his advice or assistance. Small wonder therefore, that when he died everyone privileged to enjoy his friendship or even his acquaintance felt that they had indeed lost a very dear comrade.

Born on October 28, 1861, at Portsmouth, Stewart Caine was in his 72nd year at the time of his death. It was natural that he should be a journalist, for he was educated at Stationers' School, then in Bolt-Court, and thenceforward never really left the Street. Assisting George Kelly King, who died in 1879, he at once upon leaving school began reporting cricket and in due course worked under the leadership of Charles F. Pardon when that gentleman took over the direction of the Cricket Reporting Agency. Thus he had for his mentor a superb writer on the game, and as Sydney and Edgar Pardon were his colleagues it will readily be gathered that the reporting of cricket in those days was in very good hands. Charles Pardon became Editor of Wisden's Almanack in 1887; Sydney succeeded him a few years later and on his death in the winter of 1925 Stewart Caine took over the post and produced his first edition of the book in February 1926. Under his direction the Almanack, in his first year, grew in size from 951 to 1,018 pages and, it is not too much to say, it grew equally in importance. Although the size of the Almanack increased, Caine, from the first year of his editorship, strove to keep it within reasonable limits. He held the view that it was essentially a book of reference and as such should not be allowed to become unwieldy, but so keen was his desire that nothing of importance or likely to be of value to future generations should be omitted that he found himself year after year engaged in the impossible task of squeezing a quart into a pint pot. He took immense pains over his work, and on all those who assisted him in preparing the book he was careful to impress the very important fact that in writing for the Almanack one was writing not for to-morrow but for history.

Caine brought to his work--whether for Wisden's Almanack or for the daily press--a great breadth of mind. He strove, with no small success, always, to pick out the good point of a game of cricket or football and make that the theme of his story. At the same time he was always careful to preserve a proper sense of proportion and never to exaggerate. As in his work, so in the ordinary affairs of life he scorned anything petty. Possessed of an equable temperament and a charming disposition he made and kept innumerable friends, and although towards the close of his career he suffered a great deal from ill-health he persevered bravely year after year in bringing out the Almanack, receiving the congratulations of everybody with that delightful modesty which a long and distinguished life enabled him to do with becoming grace.

Nature, to an unusual degree, conferred upon Caine the gift of discretion, and he was always proud of the fact that on the occasions when those in authority in cricket or football asked his opinion, and by so doing had to confide to him information which it was not desirable immediately to be made public, that confidence was never once misplaced. One instance of this will suffice. Some years ago, as those who can carry their memories back will recall, there was grave trouble between Lancashire and Kent owing to the fact that certain of the Lancashire bowlers were guilty of throwing. Lord Harris, then captain of Kent, held very pronounced views on the subject and at Manchester he sent for Caine and showed him a letter he had written to the Kent Committee advocating that matches between Kent and Lancashire should be discontinued. This was indeed a bombshell, and in more modern days would, from the journalistic point of view, have made a most sensational story. Caine, however, took the risk of losing the kudos attached to the disclosure of what is now termed a scoop; kept the information to himself, and by so doing retained to an even fuller degree the confidence Lord Harris reposed in him.

Caine was a bachelor, and his chief interest outside his professional career lay in furthering the aims of the Newspaper Press Fund. To mark his long association and great work for this institution which helps members of the journalistic profession who have fallen by the wayside, the Council, after his death, decided to commemorate his name by establishing a Stewart Caine Memorial Fund. Caine himself could not have wished for a better tribute to his memory.

S.J.S.

Tributes from famous cricketers with whom Caine was so often closely in touch:--

A privilege is conferred when one is asked to pay a tribute to a character one has admired. Mr. Stewart Caine discharged the duties he owed to the Public with honour to himself and with credit to those who provide it with news. The Secretary of the M.C.C. is brought into close touch with the Cricket Reporting Agency and during the many years in which I had to give information to the cricket Press I never knew him to abuse a confidence nor to distort such information for journalistic purposes. The honour and purity of the game he seemed to regard as his own and cricketers owe much to the way he dealt with its interests.--FRANCIS E. LACEY.

It is a privilege to be asked to write a few words in appreciation of the late Mr. Stewart Caine. Having known him since 1907, I had opportunities of admiring his talents. He was blessed with clear vision, a sympathetic nature and the grace of humour. His writings were widely read. I have known no writer on cricket or other manly games, better able to bring out exactly what those with an intimate knowledge of the subject would wish to have conveyed. He was generous, though not afraid to express himself forcibly if the occasion demanded it. If at any time a delicate situation had to be faced, his judgment could be relied upon. At times it was expedient to confide in him, and that confidence was never misplaced. We, who try to help in the management of cricket in this Country, are the poorer by his death.--W. FINDLAY.

It is many years ago since I first had the pleasure of meeting Stewart Caine. He was deputed when a very young man to report the matches played by the Harrow Wanderers in the North of England. I well remember how much we all liked him and how much we appreciated the excellent accounts he wrote of our matches. In the same year Stewart Caine accompanied the Uppingham Rovers on their tour and I frequently heard C. E. Green, who ran the Uppingham Rovers on the same lines as I. D. Walker did the Harrow Wanderers, speak of him in the warmest terms.

Everyone felt that he was the right man to succeed my life-long friend Sydney Pardon as Editor of Wisden, a post alas! he was to hold for so short a time. Like Sydney Pardon, Caine was never afraid of expressing his opinion but so tactfully did he write that he never made an enemy. He will be greatly missed by countless friends and also by many people, who did not know him personally, but who greatly admired the exceptionally high standard of his press work.--A. J. WEBBE.

The Editor of Wisden is an important personage. It is he who decides the policy of "the Cricketer's Bible" and cricketers the world over look to him to give a lead on all controversial problems. His is, therefore, no easy task, but Wisden has been fourtunate in its editors, the brothers C. F. and S. H. Pardon, and Mr. C. Stewart Caine. Mr. Stewart Caine filled the position in a manner worthy of the traditions of the past. His enthusiasm for the game was as keen as that of his predecessor and his manner of talking about cricket interesting--no doubt inherited from Mr. Pardon--and apt. He never exaggerated and his knowledge struck one as sound, and his opinions considered and thought out. Neither over-enthusiastic eulogies nor damning disparagements came from his lips. He had a trick which was very attractive of moving his head forward with a courteous gesture when he wished to stress a point. His health for many years had been very bad, but he never complained and bore his troubles with quiet courage.--P. F. WARNER.

The death of Mr. C. Stewart Caine has removed from the Cricket world a distinguished journalist, and an outstanding personality. He was, I venture to think, even more than that. He was a guide, philosopher and friend.

Personally, I never had the slightest hesitation in seeking his advice, for I knew full well the value of his counsel, and that my confidence in him would never be misplaced. I am certain that many others had the same feeling about him.

In a quiet and unostentatious manner--for he was the most modest of men--he did a great deal for Cricket. Like Mr. Sydney Pardon--so many years Editor of Wisden--he was very jealous of the reputation of the game, and whilst he was broad-minded enough to move with the times, his views on cricket were ever conservative.

Not for him undue haste in altering the laws without careful and considered judgment, and had the occasion arisen I believe he would have preferred to abide by the spirit of the law rather than by the strict letter. His cricket articles always appealed to me; his reasoning and judgment were so sound. The views he expressed were often very strong, but his criticisms were so fair and couched in such language that they could not offend.

In this, I think, combined with a knowledge of his subject that was unmistakeable, lay the secret of the magnetic influence his writing had on his readers. I am not unmindful of the honour of having been asked to subscribe in words my sincere regard for one whom I always looked upon as a real friend.

He was indeed Amicus Amico.--H. D. G. LEVESON GOWER.


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