Grey’s own memoirs, published in 1925, mention the remark as taking place on 3 August 1914:

A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week — he thinks it was on Monday, August 3rd. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”[1]

In 1927 John Alfred Spender, editor of the Westminster Gazette until 1922, confessed that he had been the friend Grey had spoken to:

I had two short talks with Grey during the “twelve days.” I ran into him on the stairs of the Foreign Office on Saturday, August 1st […] I saw him again late in the evening at his room at the Foreign Office on Monday, August 3rd, and it was to me he used the words which he has repeated in his book, “The lamps are going out all over Europe, and we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” We were standing together at the window looking out into the sunset across St. James’s Park, and the appearance of the first lights along the Mall suggested the thought.


Grant perpetual mercy to your departed servants, who died for our freedom, O Lord, that the hope and faith they had in you may benefit them for all eternity.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Vespers of the dead Booklet


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