I extract this from the book 'The Once and Future King:'

“Well!” said the Wart, as he woke up in his own bed next morning. “What a horrible, grand crew!”

Here, the Wart is talking about his experience as a bird among birds. According to his experience that I read, it didn't look 'horrible...'

  • Perhaps you're being misled by grand. I'm guessing that in context, the reference to a grand crew carries implications of giving evidence of wealth or high social position; recognized as belonging to, or characteristic of, high society (full OED definition 8b) - which isn't necessarily a positive attribute. Perhaps the Wart thinks that although the people he's talking about are "high society", he doesn't think they're at all nice people. Jan 24, 2019 at 18:25

2 Answers 2


TH White is saying that the Wart found the birds of prey among which he found himself to be both "horrible" (very unpleasant) and "grand" (very pleasant), or possibly both frightening and awe-inspiring, at the same time. There are a number of hints of this in the preceding chapter, in which his experience is described. Balan, one of the merlins, for example, is very helpful to him. "Grand" is used in the British informal sense of "Very good or enjoyable; excellent". "A grand crew" is a common, if old-fashioned expression meaning "a great bunch of people".

3informal Very good or enjoyable; excellent.

‘we had a grand day’



Merriam-Webster says that horrible has two definitions:

  1. marked by or arousing painful and intense fear, dread, dismay, or aversion : marked by or arousing horror.
  2. extremely bad or unpleasant.


So it sounds like the obvious definition is correct.

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