RECORD: Darwin, Francis. 1920. The story of a childhood. Edinburgh: Privately printed.
REVISION HISTORY: Scanned by John van Wyhe 8.2007, transcribed (single key) by AEL Data 9.2007. RN1
THE STORY OF A CHILDHOOD
THE STORY OF
SIR FRANCIS DARWIN
EDINBURGH: OLIVER AND BOYD
The Story of a Childhood
THE following pages are made up of extracts from letters (1877-1891) addressed to Mrs Ruck of Pantlludw, Machynlleth, North Wales, whose daughter Amy was married to me in 1874. She died in 1876, in giving birth to our son Bernard.
No. 9. May 31, 1877.—B. [i.e. Bernard] has learned a charming way of reaching out his arms to be taken: he has little bare arms now. I took him in my arms the other day straight from his bath, he felt such a little duck and whitened me all over with powder. He bangs me finely now, and seems delighted at the smacks it makes.
No. 10. June 4, 1877.—B. is very charming and dear. I feel as if he never could go on so well as he has in health. I think I should be helpless from fear if he was ill.
No. 11. June 8, 1877.—Admiral Sullivan of the Beagle came to Down. He took B, with exactly the right mixture of boldness and tenderness, so that he didn't mind.
No. 12. June 12, 1877.—Arthur Ruck lay on the grass with B. sprawling and clawing over him, or sitting like a little nightmare on him.
No. 13. June 19, 1877.—B. is dreadfully sweet; he won't stop with any one if I am near, which isaggravating for them, but not for me. He set up a howl yesterday because he discovered he was in my mother's lap and not in mine.… He is very fond of pulling off my father's hat, and jeering at him with a kind of [awe ?].… I have taken to have him on my knee when I have my breakfast, and give him bread and butter. He has an egg for dinner now which pleases him.
No. 14. June 25, 1877.—B. can almost crawl, in fact he does move a little way, but then tumbles flat and gives little grunts of difficulty till he is picked up.
No. 15. July 3, 1877.—He was dreadfully shy at Horace's friend, Mr Parsons, and leaned his head against mine over my shoulder for several minutes before he would look round at him.
No. 18. July 19, 1877.—B. is not so marked in his preference for me now, I am afraid. I think he likes the excitement of changing to another person. I saw him this morning being dressed, very much offended with things in general … and refusing to smile.
No. 19. July 23, 1877.—Anniversary of our marriage. B.'s tooth No. 5 nearly through.
No. 20. July 29, 1877.—I feel as if I wanted to have all B. to myself, and I think it makes me selfish in not liking anybody to have him but me. But he is an absolutely and utterly different thing to me [compared with] anyone else.
He laughs so loud now: little runs and flows of giggles. He can really crawl, and if it were not for his tiresome petticoats he would get all about the floor. Although he is very fond of Mary Anne, yet he thinks it better fun with me, and directly I go to the nursery he throws himself on my shoulder and seizes my coat like a kitten, and then begins to cry when she takes him.
No. 21. Probably 1877.—I stood him on a pedestal in the hall, and my father pretended to be frightened at him when he roared, and this made B. laugh till I thought he would never stop: his two little tusks look so funny, and his cheeks puckered up…. There is something very touching in a little soft creature depending on one.
No. 21 bis. March 26, 1878. B. is wrapped up in some indiarubber animals which he makes fight one another with awful growlings. He then pats them and gives them crumbs to eat, and rocks them to sleep in his arms. He has had many rides on your horse, which he highly approves of.
No. 22. March 28, 1878.—I proposed to go to Sachs's laboratory at Würzburg.
I shall hate going away from B. We are going to have him vaccinated again—the first time didn't take quite well. I wonder if he has inherited from me an obstinacy in not taking vaccination well.… B. calls grandpapa some funny word like Baba, and he has some name like Nanna for Mary Anne [his nurse]. But it does not give me much satisfaction, it seems such a usurper of the name there would have been.
He goes on being frantic over his growling lion and horse. He makes them kiss each other to make friends after an awful fight, and he kisses them and pats them himself. This morning I was bringing him down to breakfast, when I had to leave him in the hall, and asked William [? footman] to look after him. When I came back he [William] was riding him on your horse to the rapturous admiration of six maids in the back regions. He holds the bridle and looks as solemn as a judge.
No. 23. 1878?—Yesterday I was walking with B. along the kitchen-garden, and I saw him laughing to himself, so I asked him what it was; and he said he was laughing "'cos he was 'stonished at something," which turned out to be because there were no gooseberries: but I think it was really because he was pleased at using "astonished." He tried to understand how it was that I had once been little, and he would be big one day. When I said he was little now he said: "But I'm big of my age." He asked Bessy whether she was big for her age. It is pleasant to see him so contented: he was eating an awful little green apple, and said, "It doesn't have any red cheek, but it is very dood." He had tea in my room, and my father came in and began talking about how the scraps would be for the pigs, and B. immediately asked whether pigs liked marmalade. He was deeply interested in the photograph of his three uncles in uniform.
No. 26. July 29, 1878, Wurzburg.—My mother told me some new words of the little sweet's. He
calls himself Abbedabba, which is obviously a descendant of Ubbadubba which I taught him.
My old German master is always giving me sentences to translate which make my blood run cold, such as: "When I came to my house I found my son very ill."
No. 27. August (2?), Würzburg.—About coming home, Bessy says she has promised him so often that he shall meet me at the boo-boo [train], that I must tell them my train beforehand. I thought it would be so horrid, if he didn't know me, to have to drive all the way, but I expect he will at least treat me as a friend.
No. 28. August 9, 1878, Leith Hill Place.—I arrived here yesterday and found your dear letter. I must tell you about B. I saw him in Bessy's arms waiting for me at the station, and looking eagerly at the train. I saw a flash of [his mother] in him which I cannot usually see. He came into my arms perfectly naturally, as if he had only seen me about a quarter of an hour ago, and said I was Dada. When he was in the wagonette he seemed to find out all of a sudden who I was, and looked up and grinned at me and got into great spirits, laughing and tumbling about, and taking off my hat. He is very much altered, with a new expression as if he understood more of what was going on…. If you say "Bernard can't say home," he says "Oh no, 'ome," with a shy little smile.… He used to put his arms round my neck when I asked him "What the little boy did," and I asked him to-day, but he seemed
not to know, but at last he did and snuggled up against me.… He was much delighted at some little haycocks, which he calls "pa"—his name for Parslow, whom he seems to associate with hay.… It is very delightful to have his little hand in mine again, and to hear his little soft "Dada." He shouts out his own name, "Ubbadubba" in the most triumphant manner when he is doing anything he likes, and wants to call attention to it.… When he asked for Jane, whom he calls Na, I said she was at Down; he agreed and said "home."
No. 29. August 13, 1878, Leith Hill.—Meggy is a nurse-like little girl, and took great care of him. He was enjoying "swimming" very much, i.e. slipping about on his smooth little tail on the polished oak floor.… He is very fond of Jane, and said we should see "Na" at Down, when we got there. He calls all cats "Na," because he thinks they are Jane's [Na's] cats.
No. 30. August 29, 1878.—I asked B. this morning whether he would like to come to the greenhouse with me, and all he would say was "ta-ta,"—which being interpreted is, "I must put away the bricks first," and this he proceeded to do in a great hurry. When he puts his shoes or anything else away, he says ta-ta to them, and so he used the word to say that he must put them away.… Did I tell you that B. has christened your Swiss doll Parslow, after the butler. He … is devoted to it, feeding it with tit-bits, and having it to look on at his bath.
No. 31. September 18, 1878, 6 Queen Anne Street.
—I think he was really glad I came, and said to several people "Dada'ome" in a triumphant voice. I like seeing him best when he feels important, and is doing something for somebody. I gave him some skeins of red tape to carry from my work-room to my other room, and he was much pleased, and kept saying "For Dada." I think he obeys me better than anybody: my mother suggested that he should put some stones in his little barrow, and clear them away for her, but he said "No" point-blank. So I said he must do it,… and he did it quite cheerfully.… A post-card has come from Bessy saying B. very jolly picking up "ach apms" or mulberries [ach apms = bad or sham apples.]
No. 32. September 26, 1878.—B. has had his first donkey-ride, which he enjoyed very much, and since then he has insisted on having his soldiers drawn riding on donkeys.… He wanted to know whether soldiers had anybody to hold them on.… B. had one tremendous outbreak of rage about little Jo wanting something of his. I found him saying "I will knock him, I shall knock him, I won't lend it to him." So I gave the object to little Jo's nurse to carry off for him. B. repented and said he would lend it.
No. 33. October 8, 1878.—Yesterday I heard some road-engines going up the road, and I went and found B. at tea, and asked him if he would like to go and see them; he was delighted and kept jumping on my arm and saying boo-boo [i.e. engine] with a face of delight. We caught them at Luxsted farm, and
he was wonderfully pleased at seeing one turn across the road and steer through a gate. If he disguises himself, by putting a handkerchief over his face, he never can keep the secret, and directly I say "Why, who can this be?" he shouts out "Ubbadubba."
No. 34. October 16, 1878.—Last night I was sitting up in the nursery, while Mary Anne went to supper, and he woke up, and to my great pride he consented to go to sleep again in my arms, though with tears drying in his eyes.… He is much pleased with blowing the Breton bellows.… He makes the most awful puffing with his mouth to encourage the bellows.
No. 35. January 24, 1879.—It is very funny how much more punctilious B. is in his sham games than in real things. When he is pretending to go to bed, he will climb down from my bed to kiss me and say good-night. While I should have to make advances if it was real. I lay on my bed and he sat on my chest like a little incubus, and told me over and over, "First of all mumma puff-puff came by Ubbadubba, and Evvy ran out and Eddy ran out and John ran out, and Fred ran out for see mumma puff-puff" [i.e. big road-engine. Evvy is Mrs Evans the cook; Eddy, I think, was the kitchen-maid; John the coachman; Fred, groom.]
No. 36. February 1, 1879.—(I was going soon to Algiers.) I had a delightful tea with B. last night; spreading grated beef on his bread and butter. He always enjoys having his hands washed in the slopbasin, and pretending it is too hot for him. He
always wants me to tell stories while I am having tea. It is very odd what dull things he likes: he will be interested in any kind of narrative with absolutely no events in it. He is very proud now of saying "Shouldn't have thought it." I said or sang "Ubbadubba and Nanna went up a hill, etc.," ending in Nanna breaking her crown, and he remarked in a criticising tone, "Shouldn't have thought it." … He delights in a box of sawdust in my room (the history of getting it from the village forms one of my dullest stories). He makes me put out my hand and pours the sawdust over it. He calls this "Dada be a dusty ba.". A mouse is a "poor ba," and the "dusty mouse " in "Froggy would a-wooing go" has become a "dusty ba."
No. 38. August 11, 1879, from Waterhead Hotel, Coniston.—B. is very delightful and companionable; he always talks of our tin soldiers, and seems to consider that we are absolutely equal in our play. When I say, "Shall we do so-and-so?" he says, "Yes, let's," in a delightfully companionable manner. He is pretty contradictious, but it isn't in a bumptious way, only that he is rather too sure of his opinion. The worst of it is that, if I try to stop him or correct him, he takes it as a joke or a kind of game.… He thinks Coniston is rather a yellow place because there is yellow wood-work on the house. He was playing at shooting Zulus with my pipe for a pistol, and he asked me where I got the pipe, and I told him that Mr Nash, who was then in America, gave it to me; and he asked me, " What coloured
America?" The most important quality about anything is always its colour.
No. 39. August 13, 1879, Waterhead Hotel, Coniston.—Mr Severn told me a nice child story. A little girl asked whether God had dinner, and on being told that this was not so, said, " Oh, then, I suppose he has an egg for his tea."
B. made a nice speech: we were wandering along and I found a rook's feather and gave it him to give to George to clean his cigarette-holder. B. said, " What shall I say? Shall I say, 'Here's a feather for you, Mim' (his name for George)? No, I don't think I can say that, I'm not long enough.…" Our chief amusement is drawing soldiers on the slate steps of the verandah, long processions of them, and B. and Nanna waiting for them, and much drumming and trumpeting. He has an enormous hat, and we have a game of pretending he is a mushroom, and I gather him by his legs and am astonished to discover it is B. after all.
No. 4o. August 19, 1879, Waterhead Hotel, Coniston.—B. is much more independent than he was, and sits at the table drawing, quite happy by himself.… If one asks him to draw a cow or a horse, he will draw some scrawls, but sometimes, quite unaccountably, doubts whether he can draw a cat or something quite as simple. He plays, for a long time, at filling a little cup with gravel, asking at each journey what he shall bring next. Generally I say treacle, jam, etc., but one day I ordered remarkable dishes such as crocodile and horse-radish
sauce, or fir-cones and melted butter; at last poor little B. thought I was chaffing him, and said, "I don't want to bring you that.…" He goes on pronouncing q like p. I found him crying at having to finish up his crust at tea, so I started a race—who should eat up a crust quickest, at which he was much pleased, and went on saying, with his mouth full, "Who eats pickest?"
No. 43. August 29, 1879, Down.—If there is any truth in the rule [? what rule] he ought to be over 6 feet high.
B. always wets his finger in his mouth and puts it on any place that hurts him; as we were playing he bumped my nose very hard, so that I had to stop for a minute, whereupon he wet his little hand, and rubbed my nose, saying: "Now it is pite vell." Since he has been here it has been one incessant drum, and I have to trumpet and march a great deal with him.
No. 44. September 12, 1879.—B. was very proud of saying "As far as I can remember," and said it many times. Last night I went to see him as he was going to bed, and found he wouldn't drink his milk because there was one-eighth of an inch less than usual; Nanna calmly saying that it could not be helped, she had not any more; and he crying and saying he didn't want that "tiny little bit." I believe he went to bed milkless, and then thought better of it, and drank it up.… He is still frantic over drumming, and thinks of drumming about nine-
tenths of his waking hours. It shows a delightful fund of perseverance.
No. 45. October 6, 1879.—B. was very languid and bilious this morning and wouldn't walk downstairs, but was carried like a warm sack hanging on my shoulder. He sat on my lap and I told him stories, and he cheered up, and now … he is drawing gorgeous "bool" and red soldiers by himself. I told him I had seen chocolate-coloured hussars in Denmark, and he was much interested, and wanted to know whether any of them had coats made of maple sugar—a brown American sweetstuff. I told him Chinamen had yellow faces, and he asked, "Always?" and then asked whether, when they sat too close to the fire, they didn't get red faces.
No. 46. October 7, 1879.—Mr Forrest hurt himself playing lawn-tennis; he snapped a small tendon in his leg. I told B. about it when he was having his tub, when suddenly I saw the corners of his mouth go down, and he began to cry bitterly.… It seemed to add to his grief that he had seen Mr Forrest in the morning, and " he didn't have a bad leg then."
No. 47. October 10, 1879.—B. has a fascinating way of asking me to do something. "You get my vip, will you?" … with an enticing curl up at the end. Last night he asked for gee-gee rides. I said I didn't think I could, as I was dressed for dinner: but he only wanted two gee-gee rides … and he was much amused when I said, I thought
at first that he wanted seven rides—his usual number.
No. 48. October II, 1879.—The little Bonham-Carters came to tea and he refused to slide with them (i.e. on the wooden slide upstairs). This morning he wanted to know why negroes had curly hair, and we said we would tell him if he could say why he had straight hair. I came in and found him enjoying the joke, and shouting out, "I don't know why I have straight hair." My father was feeling very tired, and stretched himself saying, "Oh ho, it's a bad world": whereupon B. looked up very knowingly, and said "I think so too." … He considers us all his equals, and Bessy says he considers her an inferior, and he has to teach her how to hold a sword or trumpet.
No. 50. October 16, 1879.— B. is developing a greater power of being naughty. Miss Drummond from Holwood was lunching here, and he totally refused to say, "How do you do"; this was not taken any notice of, but when he was going out of the room she asked to look at his soldiers, and on his refusing, I took them and showed them. When he had nearly got right I asked him if he would show them another time, but he said he wouldn't; so I took them away and burnt them, which caused a fresh outburst of rage and grief.
He has my bicycle bell for a plaything, and gallops on my shoulder ringing it and laughing.… We also sail in the boat in a fog and ring to tell other ships that we are coming. We are generally
two soldiers called Heysifer and Habatab. We then sit on the stairs to be safe from a snake called Elmit, who can go down but not up stairs. B. says that Elmit's nanna carries it upstairs.
No. 51. October 29, 1879.—B. has been using some very nice words with p for q; he talks of the pilt on the bed, and we had a discussion as to whether it was nicer to be speesed or spashed. We have an old game redivivus, of walking about the dining-room by fire-light, he being on my shoulders, and pretending we can't get out—blundering against chairs, etc., on purpose, amid peels of laughter from my shoulders.
No. 52. November 4, 1879.— Ubbadubba and I had a little battle royal yesterday. The man from Bromley came to cut his hair, and he took it into his head that he would not have it. Mary Anne tried persuading him, and shaming him into it; but he stuck to "I don't want it cut." … So I … held him in his chair screaming and kicking, and inarticulate with rage: the snippings of hair made a plaster with the tears on his face, and got on his tongue somehow; he was trembling all over, and when he could get a word, it was an appeal to Nanna to save him. After it was finished he soon recovered, and drove me, contentedly round the sand walk, by a handkerchief tied to my waistcoat buckle, and a whip to make me prance.
No. 54. November 8, 1879.—B. is full of imagin-
ings; he told me a long rigmarole about the guinea fowls that were coming "roaring after us"; he said they "eat Zulus and door-handles and neckties, what people don't want—and that's all." He is much delighted with our little house (in the clouds) with a green door and a brass plate with Dr Ubbadubba and Dr Dada on it. We have a large household of animals, all of which are named. Tadpole the dog, because he has a big head, and
Harlequin the cat, which he calls "Harlepin," etc., etc. We sit in the boat rocking and I tell him all about the creatures. At last the boat reaches the shore, and he mounts on my back, and we gallop off to doctor Mr Slud's unfortunate girls who are whipped several times a day.
No. 57. November 21, 1879.—I am very glad that the little duck talks about me, and I like to hear of it very much: also about the bicycling joke. We used to draw tremendous bicycling tours with B. tumbling off, and Dada running to pick him up. [Shown in the above sketch.]
No. 58.—November 22, 1879.—B. came in the middle of lunch, looking so bright and pretty, and with a half shy look that he always has when he comes back. He jumped into my arms and gave kisses all round. He then got on the sofa and announced that he had sweeties in his pocket and said he would give us all some, which he proceeded to do.
No. 60. November 28, 1879.—I told you about B.'s inviting himself to tea, which I need not say was gratefully accepted. He was rather proud of it and told everybody: "I asked Dada if I should come to tea with him, and he said yes, and I meant yes." I suppose he meant, "and I meant my invitation to be accepted." … He held out his hand in the direction of the sugar, so Bessy said, "What does that little finger want?" and he said, "Sugar." I told him he mustn't be always asking for sugar … so he said, "That little finger made a mistake: it thought it wanted some sugar, but it didn't really." … He is delighted with a number of bright patterns of serge and velveteen, which I have had to nail on to a lot of wooden soldiers to make cloaks for them, and then on to a lot of wooden beasts.… We have added two new characters—Simon and Jacob Tingtong, who were naughty boys, and ran out in the snow in their nightgowns … and we have to whip them a great deal. He sometimes beats his fishes for going tail first.… The legal fiction of Homnom is useful: I asked him the name of a tune, and he said, "I shan't tell you," in a very cross voice; and a
little time afterwards he said, "What are you thinking about?" So I said I was thinking about a little boy called Homnom who when his dada, etc., and then I whistled the tune, and he immediately said the name looking half amused, half ashamed.
No. 61. December 6, 1879, 6 Queen Anne Street.—I can't remember whether I asked you … about his learning to read; … he might anyhow learn his letters which he has almost forgotten. He went to tea with Alfred Wedgwood's little boy, and related how "that little boy wanted me to get out of his chair, but I sat still, and didn't care for him—that's what I done."
No. 62. December 9, 1879.—The visit at Cambridge was very nice … and I like the Jacksons [Mr and Mrs Henry Jackson] more than ever. I think B. was quite good to the twins (the "pins"), though he didn't take very much notice of them. Mrs Jackson was very kind indeed to him, and they were very good friends.
No. 63. December 12, 1879.—B. was delighted with some old toys of Henry Jackson's … splendid beasts, each with a house of his own. He has the flat candlestick … made of rickety brass, with which his father used to read in bed, lying on his back with the candle on his chest, between his nose and the book. The twins ("pins" in B.'s language) are dreadfully frail … the little one is only kept alive by brandy.
No. 64. December 15, 1879.—At breakfast he was playing about, and presently announced, in a corn-
plaining voice, that he was too tired to sit still; my mother said he would not be tired in the drawing-room, but he said "Yes, still more tired." Then somebody offered him a bit of toast, and he immediately cheered up; so Bessy said, "Oh, that was what it was all about, was it ?" and B. said in a cheerful voice, "Yes, that was what it was all about."
No. 66. December 28, 1879.—It is odd how children cannot understand anything like an analogy. I tried to explain to B. that his whip was the same shape as a huntsman's though not so big, just as his boots were the same shape as mine though smaller: to which he answered something like this: "But my vip is bigger than my boots."
No. 68. 1879-80?—There is something so pathetic to me in hearing B.'s little voice hoarse, and to hear him say, "Vun a penny, two a penny, 'ot cross buns" in his little croak.… B. was very sweet this morning, sitting at table in a big chair, while I had my breakfast.… He calls the bust of my father "vite baba," and the portrait "dark baba."
No. 69. January 3, 1880.—I haven't had time to see much of B.; when I went in this morning he was complaining much over his head being washed, but I managed to get him into a more cheerful frame of mind. He was very sweet afterwards, talking eagerly about a lot of new soldiers, and dragging me by main force to look at them. He immediately suggested a gee-gee ride, and asked which whip would "fit." This is because I don't let him ride with a long whip for fear of it catching in the wall
as we go along, and then the end might go into his face.
No. 70. January 8, 1880.—He had been to tea at Aunt Elizabeth to play with the Kempsons, and walked home in the dark. He said, "We heard a humpling and we thought it was a horse, but it was a man." I asked him if he was frightened, and he said "Yes, but I didn't say anything." … This morning I was going to take him down without giving him any gee-gee rides, but he said in a coaxing voice, "I should like a foo (few); what do you think?" Yesterday he invited himself to tea … and when I said I should like it, he said, "Very well, then, we'll settle it." … He is very proud of a little napkin with which he wipes his own mouth after drinking.
No. 71. January 10, 1880.—He is very cute in the reason he gives for things; he asked why his bread and butter broke in two, and I was going to say I didn't know, when he said, "Because it had a big hole I think." … He is always imagining naughty creatures carrying off some of my possessions. He very often says, "I've heard there is a naughty wolf skating off with your skates and your screwdriver in his mouth." … He is much devoted to George, who is very good natured in drawing soldiers, and playing with him. I saw him yesterday singing "Niminy Niminy Nim, Nim, Nim," and scrubbing his nose quite flat on George's face, while he scrummaged about on his knees. He is always singing a tuneless sort of wail, but it sounds cheerful by association. [B.'s name for George was Mim.]
No. 72. January 17, 1880.—B. now sings a song, — perfectly tuneless — with great emphasis and expression, stopping for what seem seconds between words to take breadth. It is about the magic ship with twenty-four white mice and a duck as captain. It ends "The captain he said Pack" [i.e. Quack.]
No. 73. January 20, 1880.—It is very nice how he tells anything that pleases him. I was making a sheath for his sword, … and he was shouting to Baba (C. D.) about it: he wouldn't allow that the sealing-wax was to make the paper stick, but said it was to make it look pretty.… I have a game of jumping him down a lot of steps, and I must always say, "But you can't jump as many as this, can you?" If I don't he tells me to say it before he will jump.
No. 75. January 24, 1880.—I made the American jumping-frog perform for B. When it stops jumping he runs and picks it up and gives it to me to be wound up, and then runs away to be safe on the sofa. I tried to persuade him not to be afraid, but he said, "I want to be afraid."
No. 77. January 31, 1880.—B. was very pathetic about the old man of Aosta, in the Nonsense Book. "He had a fine cow but he lost her," and she is discovered up a tree. I entered into the grief of the old man too vividly, and I saw the tears come into his eyes; but he made me tell it again, and when I tried it in a cheerfuller manner, he said, "Say about when he cried." I could see he was nearly crying, so I said, "I don't think I had better tell you about it if it makes you cry," on which he burst into tears and
said, "Why did she go up a tree?" I consoled him by the cow finding most beautiful birds'-nests… I sit with him while he is being washed at night, and then he sits on my knee and puts his arms round my neck to say good-night. He said one night, "Your trousers are as warm as buttered toast." He would not tell me what games they played at Aunt Elizabeth's, saying that I shouldn't understand.
No. 78. February 3, 1880.—B. is perfectly wrapped up in the Nonsense Book and a few other picture books; his other chief amusement is building. I found him one day out of doors carefully pouring mud with a stick over a bit of yew-bark, and he said he was killing a frog for his tea. Last night I said, "I can't say that again, it's such dreadful nonsense," and he said, "I like nonsense." He is always asking the meaning of such words as "that intrinsic old man of Peru"—which is rather puzzling.… He was very anxious that we should mend his wheel-barrow, and when I said I couldn't, he said, "Werry well, we must do without."
No. 79. February 6, 1880.—Yesterday I was playing a ridiculous game with B., in which an ivory fish had to be knocked on the nose for naughtiness. So to-day when I could not shut a tin box with seeds germinating in it, he said, "We must knock it on the nose."
No. 82. February 19, 1880.—B. has been delighted with his lancer's cap, and a lance with a loop for his arm.… Now he has a sabre-tache to his sword,
and gallops about without the lance as a lancer officer. Mr Flower, the head of the College of Surgeons' Museum, was much struck by his drawing and said he drew much better than most children of his age.… B. said a nice thing this week; he was having his tea with me, and Bessy came in at the end. B. said, "I've just done," and Bessy, "Oh, then I'm too late to see you." And B., "Yes, you only had a little tiny saw."
No. 83. February 27, 1880.—B. had a new delight with his castle [made of wooden bricks]: I made him paper flags, French, Russian, and Portuguese, fastened to sticks, and stuck them on his castle and put a light inside. He was delighted and jumped without ceasing all the time the flags were making. Then we put Azalea flowers in the windows of the lady of the castle. He admired it so much that he had to fetch Nanna to see it. He looked at the plain backs of the flags, and said, "If you look werry hard you can see them werry faint," i.e., the colours were seen through. He adopted two thrushes which had killed themselves against the glass verandah.… He made beds for them, and had a great deal of imaginary conversation with them.
No. 84. March 2, 1880.—Nanna had gone to tea at Parslow's, so we all had 5 o'clock tea up in the nursery, which made B. very solemn; but he enjoyed it much, and said it was "quite a party." We went a walk with him in the morning to Orchis Bank. Leo and Bessy went on, and I
stopped with him rolling stones down the bank.… He was very good and modest the other day: somebody suggested that he should ask me whether I had written for the green and yellow pencils I had promised him. But he said that was too much to say, so they suggested something milder, a hint I suppose (I was not there); but he declined to have anything to do with it. We have a whole galaxy of flags now, of all nations, and can decorate the brick castle in the most gorgeous style.
No. 85. March 4, 1880.—B.'s memory is curiously good. He can say lots of the Nonsense rhymes containing all sorts of words that he does not know, and if one says a single word wrong he corrects one. I quoted "There was an old person of Burton, whose answers were very uncertain": and he corrected this to "rather uncertain" which is right.
No. 86. March 13, 1880.—When he feels a little unwell he is much more given to kissing.
No. 87.—May I, 1880.—This was a day of tears and smiles for B. I found him weeping bitterly over his head being washed in the morning, and this made him discontented with the beautiful garland which Nanna and Eddy (the kitchen-maid) made for him to go a-maying with. He wanted a cherry bough with bunches of flowers tied on such as the village children have, but they made his of two cross rings all over cowslips and primroses, etc.… I asked him if he had thanked Nanna for her garland, and he said, "That's just what I
can't say, whether I have." I told him to give her a kiss for it, which he did very prettily. After breakfast he went all about the house, showing his garland, and getting pennies from everbody, and very happy.
The Down children used to sing "The first of May is garnting [garlanding?] day, please to remember the May Pole."
No. 90. March 29, 1880.—B. has still got a cold; he puts in "Wipe my nose please," quite mechanically in the middle of a game.… Poor B. said, quite patiently, "I suppose my nose will always be like this." … He told George his (B.'s) drawers were made of swansdown "pill" (quill)—a nice word. He told me a certain picture wasn't England because there were not three windmills: I asked him where the mills ought to be, and he said, "One in the road, another at Westerham, and another at Keston." He evidently considers this neighbourhood to be England, and the windmills a sort of trade mark.
No. 91. April 6, 1880.—I had been at Abinger and B. gave me a nice welcome back. Poor little duck, I made him cry by telling him to do something rather too sharply. I felt very guilty as he is such an obedient little duck.
No. 93. April 30, 1880.—B. had his portrait drawn by Mr Atkinson. I told you about B.'s second sitting; he was perfectly angelic again; and I amused him by making Finland canoes out of paper in the way my Finlander [Elfving] taught
me to make them of water-grass leaves. Mr Atkinson was extremely amused at him. B. drew a soldier which I wanted to carry off for you, but Mr Atkinson said, "Did he draw that? Oh, do let me have it."
No. 94. April 14, 1880.—B. had dinner downstairs and behaved discreetly. Except when offered mashed potatoes, at which he said scornfully, "I don't eat pudding with my meat." … Ida made him a cowslip ball, and he said, "I know a song about a cowslip ball," and then blushed crimson. He looked very pretty, tossing his ball about, and singing "Tissdy, Tossdy, cowslip…ball, I wonder where you're going to fall."
No. 96. April 22, 1880.—I told B. he was to draw some soldiers to send you, but he immediately said that he couldn't draw well enough, and then that he shouldn't have time. I shall have to steal a set.… One of the Bonham-Carter children gave him a hideous little paper man, which quite delighted him, and he was wondering all the way home whether the little man liked driving, and what he would think of the nursery. He gave him a gee-gee ride on my back with himself. Just as he was going to bed he looked intently at the paper man, and said, "Why, dear me, what thin legs he's got," which he certainly had. Nanna was very proud because he let the little Bonham-Carters wave his pink flag. B. was horrified at his little man having a face behind as well as in front, and blacked it over with a pencil.
No. 97. April 27, 1880.—I wish you could have seen B. just now, making a cake; he has his sleeves tucked up, and fat white arms showing. His dainty way of holding a little rolling pin (that Parslow made for him) is very pretty. He stands on a boss1 at the table, and rolls the paste on a little board (made for him by the village carpenter), and puts the currants in with great care.… He is so good at understanding one; we were playing an idiotic game—asking questions of the hat-box or the chest of drawers or anything else, and beating them when they answered wrong.
No. 98. May I? 1880.—B. gets more and more delightful, but I don't know that I have anything to say. He digs in a heap of sand, I get him water in a can and he makes mud. He calls it squashy dough, which he pronounces all in one word— "sposhydo."
No. 99. May 11, 1880.—When I have B. in my room, while I am dressing, he is much excited as to whether I shall put on a white tie or a black one, and he knows that if a lot of people come, I have to be smart and wear a white one.… The little wretch has an appalling belief in my power of mending things; he brought an old trumpet which he was sure I could mend "because I was so clever."
No. 100. May 12, 1880.—B.'s latest accomplishment is singing a German song, of which he is very proud, and shouts it out to everybody, saying, "You can't understand." This he does to the new
1 The Shrewsbury word for a footstool.
German lady's maid—and it is true enough.… I have sung it to him till he has picked up two lines:—
" Nie kehrst du wieder goldne Zeit,
So frei so ungebunden."
This he sings:—
"And cares to be the golden site
So diddle diddle woonden."
and this he considers "Derman."
My latest amusement for him, which makes him jump with joy, is making a "real engine." This consists of a little cart (the horse taken out) and supplied with a lamp chimney; the smoke is produced by smouldering brown-paper.… I ought to have known that he was the stoker: I also offended by saying gee-up to the engine, as if it were a cart and horse.
No. 102. May 18, 1880.—B. is getting prettier every day I think, and very brown. We had a delightful day on Sunday. He came and sat on my knee when I was having breakfast; he looked at the bacon on my plate, and made a little hinting noise, "Num num." So I asked if he would like a bit of poached egg, but he didn't; so I suggested bacon which was what he wanted, and he answered, "Yes, that was what I was numming about."
No. 104. May 29, 1880 [from Basset, Southampton].—I met B. on the Common with Nanna, as I drove up yesterday. He was very glad to see me.… I think he is fonder of me than ever, and is always wanting to come with me.… Sara [William's
wife] is delightfully kind, with a sort of suppressed tenderness in her manner.
No. 109. June 25, 1880.—B. asked me whether the wind liked being cold, and then whether it would mind snowballs being thrown at it.… I said to B. one day "Bless the infant," and he answered indignantly, "I'm not an elephant."
No. 110. June 29, 1880.—B. asked whether Uncle Arthur was stronger than me, and was rather sceptical and indignant when I said he was—much stronger. B. said, "Then why does he eat so much?" He thinks strength is a mere question of eating.
No. 111. July 5, 1880.—[I had been away for a night]. When I got back here I found B. very busy making dirt pies with buttercups for eggs, and only just able to give me a kiss and go on again.
No. 112. July 7, 1880.—I was starting in a hurry and didn't say good-bye to him, so he came running out of the drawing-room and jumped into my arms to hug me; I saw he meant it for a good-bye for a long time, so I said I was coming back to-night, and he said in his little pathetic voice, "I didn't know, I didn't know," and then asked to have his eyes wiped.
He was very fond of green gooseberries and said they were gooder than strawberries. My father always says children love sour things; [it] is a savage instinct. When William was a little boy he was delicate, and I suppose taken too much care of, and my grandfather said, "Let him run about and
get his feet wet and eat green gooseberries," and he got wonderfully stronger.
No. 116. August 20, 1880—B. gave me a splendid welcome. He was watching for me at Aunt Elizabeth's, and when he saw me he smiled all over, and pointed his finger. When I came in he jumped into my arms and hugged me quite tight.
No. 118. August 31, 1880.—B. was very funny the other day. He had a toy given to him from the heap intended for the Workhouse children. There was a flaw in it, which displeased him, and he said it was no use to him, and tried to hint for another, and cunningly tried to get into the smoking-room where the things were by saying he wanted to see how big the room was.
No. 120. September, 4, 1880.—B.'s rage about people's age is appalling: he told me a certain field belonged to Mr Mold, and I told him it belonged to Sir John Lubbock, but Mold took care of it for him, and his only comment was "Which is the oldest, Sir John or Mr Mold?" He has settled that Mr Silverbud is as old as Baba (i.e., C. D.) and Mr Goldbud as old as me.… We generally have an awful scrummage on my bed just before he goes to bed.… We went a little walk in the Big Woods yesterday evening, and he was delighted at a little secret path with one end grown up.… He is very faithful in digging in a sand-heap and spends hours there.
No. 121. September 8, 1880—Yesterday was poor little B.'s birthday, and on Monday I asked him what
he would like for a birthday present, and he settled that he would like an iron spade.… I bicycled to Bromley and found a small set of spade, hoe, and rake. When I came back he was dying to know what the two other things were, and kept dancing about on my bed saying "Oh, you must tell me Dada." … He was rather outrageous in the afternoon and fell off a chair and hurt himself, and revenged himself by slapping Nanna.… I took him on my knee and explained that it wasn't right, and he was very penitent.
No. 122. September 11?, 1880.—B. had three little Bonham-Carters to play with him and have tea yesterday. I hear that he had to be pulled out of the boat by force to give them their turn, but otherwise he was good.… He is very warm-hearted, poor little chap, and often looks up to be kissed.… He has the "What?" disease very badly, … if one doesn't repeat, he gets tired of saying "What?" George is very good natured to him, and spent a long time making him a tremendous wooden pistol.
No. 123. September 14, 1880.—I had a tragic scene with B., a little time ago. He wanted to put the shirt I had just taken off into a basin of water. I told him not to, and when I saw he meant it, I said I should be obliged to turn him out if he did. I think he didn't believe I should, so in it went, and out he went.… He began crying and roaring to me; I kept him out for some time, and then said I would let him in if
he would leave off crying, so it was all right. We have a good deal of swinging on the wire rope swing … and he is learning to swing standing up as we used to do.… B. wrote a letter to Henrietta; … it was all about his pistols and what he shot with them. He has three pistols hung on nails near the head of his bed.
No. 124. September 17, 1880.—It has been pretty to see how glad B. is that Na (Jane the housemaid) is coming here for a visit. He told everybody that Na was coming home again.… He showed me a little man [a doll?] who was going to give ten kisses to Na. He seemed to take great pleasure in remembering how Na and he used to march round "my nursery" drumming and trumpeting.
No. 126. September 25, 1880.—B. has been learning a bit of poetry spontaneously, and is very proud of "exceedingly angry were they," also some other long words which please him. He flew into a sudden rage and began slapping and kicking me, but was dreadfully penitent when I gently remonstrated.
No. 127. September 28, 1880.—B. was very funny the other day; he was crying a little because he didn't want to go up [to bed?]. He then instantly cheered up … and said, "If you'd just wipe my nose—my nose does get a little wet after I've been crying"—just as if he were observing a curious fact in some one else.… He has seven walking-sticks called Monday, Tuesday, etc., which stand in a little rack I made for him. They all have a
strip of tin-foil round them to look grand, and ferrules made of empty revolver cartridges, which Jackson puts on for him.
No. 128. October 2, 1880.—Will you ask Sister Mary (Mrs Steuart) how old her boys were when they went into knickerbockers. There is some talk of B. being transformed, which I don't like, only I suppose he will get too big for petticoats some day. He says he will "break them," and not put them on. He said, "I hate to see little boys in trousers, don't you?" which he evidently picked up from Nanna.… I have got B. a box of moist colours, ten colours for a shilling in a tin box with three brushes all very good. He is delighted, and paints very tidily. He was engaged on a large work—Worcester Cathedral out of the Illustrated London News, which is painting all sorts of colours. He generally presents his works to Nanna.
No. 129. October 3?, 1880.—Ubbadub has come back to his passion for stories, which is, I think, a winter taste; it is more reposeful for me, as after lunch he sits on my knee and looks at pictures, and has the same story over and over; whereas a little time ago, he produced a toy every day which wanted mending.
No. 130. October 5, 1880.—B. is very full of his fairies, little paper figures in long dresses. The first were made by Henrietta, and when these got lost I had to draw them; but he did not approve of my faces, and said they were too serious. He
colours them, and then acts with them, giving them slides, and making them steal things, for which they are put in prison. The first ones were called Araminta, Belinda, etc., but these names did not suit him; he now calls them "dear little Cock-Robin, and dear little Thrush, and dear little Grasshopper."
No. 131. October 7, 1880.—George is more than ever devoted to B., and tells him enormously long stories.… When he came down in the morning, my father saw him on the stairs, and suggested jumping off three steps. B. pensively laid his head on the bannister, and said he could do it, but didn't want to.… Yesterday he brought all his walking-sticks down and made little "bool" [blue] and red and yellow marks on them.… He now calls his walking-sticks Jackson No. 1, 2, and 3, Dada, Southampton, Ravensbourne, and James.… He has three chairs in the nursery called the dogcart, the wagonette, and the van, and each one has its special whip.
No. 133. October 13, 1880.—We had an amusing scene with B. Henrietta brought him a jacket and knickerbockers of blue serge, to see how they would do; and instead of making holes in them with a gimlet [as he had threatened?], he took a sudden liking to them.… When anybody expressed approval he said, "And I like them too, and I think to go into them."
No. 136. November 2, 1880.—I shall find a trousered B. when I go back to-day; I am very
sorry to say good-bye to the poor little petticoats.
No. 137. November 5, 1880.—He is very proud of being able to whistle and is always practising. He is always asking me to show him how he used to make a "fluffy noise," before he could really whistle. We use whistling now as a signal. He stands at the top of the slide and I at the bottom, and then I whistle, which means "Are you ready." He then whistles once, which means "No": I ask again, and he whistles twice for yes.… One day I was singing Rule Britannia, and he asked what slaves were. I explained about negro slavery, and a smile of satisfaction came over him, and he asked, "What coloured whips do they whip them with."
No. 138. November 8, 1880.—[Aunt Elizabeth was dying in great discomfort.] In the midst of this she remembered B., and that he had been out of sorts for a day or two, and asked after him. I could just hear "Ubbadubba not well." It was wonderfully touching—she kept her thoughts for others to the very last. Then she got easier and … they hardly knew when she died.
No. 140. November 16, 1880.—I have at last come home and find B. in trousers; he looks very nice, but dreadfully old. He says he likes them better than petticoats, and is very proud of his shirt buttons. He looked very shy and pretty when I first saw him.… He tells stories to himself in an eager voice, forgetting half the things and saying
some of it in a very low quick voice, so that one can't hear it.
Yesterday when I had seen B., I said that I must go and see Baba, and he asked me, "How long shall you look at him for?" as if he were a picture.… When he wants something very much, he says, "Oh please, and for goodness' sake."
No. 141. November 19, 1880.—Going to V. Marshall's at Coniston. I think it will be very nice for B. to have a jolly Christmas … I may bring Nanna.
B. is puffed up with spiritual pride about his reading; he rushes into the study, and calls out, "Baba, I've read pwenty-six words! pwenty-six!!" This morning he was trying to whistle a tune, and said, "Isn't that a faint old toon." He has been insisting on the maids sliding kangaroo-way, i.e., crunched up, and he told me that Elizabeth (the excessively staid housemaid) "got as far as that and then sloppered." I don't know when he gives his sliding lessons. It was a wooden slide.
No. 142. November 23, 1880.—B. has developed a taste for new stories which is rather trying; he sits on my knee like a little old man of the sea, and says "You really must." In our gee-gee rides we now have all manner of beasts springing out on us; he makes noises for them, a pretty cooing being the wolves howling. He has dinner downstairs, and behaves pretty tidily, only it is rather difficult to prevent him and Baba (C. D.) having whistling matches; he is much pleased at the badness of
Baba's whistling. He is fond of lying on the sofa with me, under a wolf-skin, which he calls "this fluffy old rascal." … I was telling him a story about a butcher who bought a black pig: I had forgotten that the pig was black, when he suddenly said, "The meat would be black surely."
No. 143. November 27, 1880.—Did I tell you of the blood-thirsty message he wanted to send to Swears and Wells—the people who would not send his clothes: "Tell them I'm shapening my gun." He had come back from London triumphant with a "curly trumpet," and I have to march with him playing the other trumpet which, by a dispensation of providence, is in tune with this new one.… I had tea with him, and he had alternate slices of bread and treacle and bread and butter.
No. 144. November 30, 1880.—I was touched by a speech of poor little B.'s. He was rubbing his nose very hard and I said, "Don't make your nose flatter than it is, old boy." B.: "I wish it wasn't as flat as it is." F. D.: "Why, it's a very nice nose; who said it was flat?" B.: "You did often." I assured him I liked it better than anybody's nose.
No. 145. December 3, 1880. — Yesterday B. appeared for the first time in the character of enfant terrible. I was walking up through the village with him, when a man named Tomkins caught us up and asked me to come in and see a dial he is making. They live at what was the Lovegroves' house [it had been Aunt Sarah's], and seem nice people, so in we went. B. was rather
astonished and asked, "What's his name?" F. D.: "Mr Tomkins." B. D.: "What an ugly name." I think Tomkins must have heard, but he was just leaving the room, so that he had not to go through the agony of pretending not to hear.… B. behaved with great decorum, except after tea, when he asked several times: "When are we going home to Nanna." He was very proud of having had tea with Mr Tomkins, and made me rehearse the telling of Nanna about it. But when I said, "And B. spilt some milk on his lap" (which was the fact), he said, "Oh no, don't say that"; and I promised not to tell.
No. 147. December 7, 1880.—B. is a dreadful little fidget; he always lies on the sofa and looks at pictures after his lessons, and when I was starting he kept saying, "I really can't wait any longer," and openly expressed his joy when he found I was actually going.
No. 149. January 29, 1881. [I do not know what journey is here referred to.]—We had a horrid cold day for our journey, starting at 12 and getting in at 8.30 P.M. B. kept quite warm, as Mary Anne managed to get two greatcoats on him: he was a most comic little log; he couldn't put his hand to his cap, and when he was on the ground could hardly get up at all, and one seemed to haul him up and set him on end like a ninepin.… He kept asking for "that tiresome Willesden," and when I said it wouldn't come for a long time he asked, "Why did they build it so far off?" I used bribery
and corruption for the only time: when we were getting into the cab Nanna wanted to put a shawl on him, and he rebelled, so I smoothed it over with sweet-stuff. He was thinking all the time of the trombone he wanted to buy with his new half-crown, and next morning he went out and returned with it in triumph. The little duck got me a blue and white spill-jar, which Nanna suggested. He took great delight in giving it to me, and kept asking, "Didn't I give you a nice present?"
No. 150. February 1, 1881, London.—B. is very full of Highlanders, whom he draws by making white legs to them to show they are bare. He asked whether they had moustaches, and when I said yes, B. said, "Oh, they've found out moustachios have they?" He was disappointed to learn that Highland policemen didn't wear petticoats. "Didn't any of them wear petticoats?" I said I wanted to teach him some multiplication of a very easy kind; and when he said "No," I said I wanted him to learn to please me; he burst into tears, and immediately promised to do it next day.
No. 151. February 4, 1881.—He is still frantically energetic in drawing soldiers: he will have more perseverance than I have, I am glad to see. He is very timid, and I am trying to instil into him that he ought not to be afraid. He used to be able to slide down six steps standing up, but now he is afraid. I have had great work persuading him to do it, and I have to hold out my arms so that I could catch him if he fell, before he will start. I believe
with Nanna he makes excuses about not having the right pair of shoes on.
No. 152. February 5, 1881.—I had a crisis with poor B. over his multiplication: he wouldn't attend a bit, and said them all wrong on purpose. So I told him he wasn't trying, etc., which produced tears, and he promised to do them well next time. And the following day he said them perfectly, and was full of surprise at himself, saying, "It was silly not to do them well, wasn't it?" He is very proud of having conquered his fear of sliding (six steps) standing, and continually asks, "Are you very glad about those six steps?"
Every day I have to pretend to be angry with him and drive him up after dinner to have his hands washed, by ferociously cracking a whip. If I don't do it he loiters about and tells me to get the whip. I can't imagine what his intense curiosity about uniforms will turn into. I should guess into a knowledge of some kind of detail—perhaps anti-quarianism or collecting. I cannot remember the uniform of the Spahis at Algiers—to his grief—except that they have long red cloaks.
No. 153. February 9, 1881.—B. has now taken to like his multiplication very much and said to me, "When are we going to do our little twice one's two?"
[Pauline was coming as his nurse in place of Mary Anne, who was about to be married.]
No. 154. March 2, 1881.—I got here yesterday and found B. just starting for a walk: he ran to
meet me, tumbling down and dirtying himself and his half apple, but he was soon all right with another apple. He said, "Oh, good gracious me, look at my gloves." … The bits of information he retails are funny; he told me some facts about Columbus which he learned from James the footman. How the savages rubbed C.'s hands to get the white paint off. I heard him instructing Nanna about Napoleon, "a very bad man always making war for nothing at all, and the Dook of Wellington went in a boat and put him on a island." He tells me these things with the deepest interest.
No. 155. March 5, 1881.—He asked me: "You didn't know you was going to be a person before you was born?" He got a letter from George who was in Madeira, with a picture of Portuguese soldiers which pleased him. He has written to George beginning, "My dear Mim," and ending, "My affectionate Ubbadubba." He is uneasy as to whether the Madeira officers have gold stripes, and asked George about it in his letter. George has promised him a pair of yellow top-boots such as the Madeira children wear.
No. 156. April 6, 1881.—His nurse Mary Anne was married to Arthur Parslow, the son of our butler.
I want to tell you about poor little B. and Nanna. He asked so much about when she was coming back, that he had to be told. I wanted to tell him myself, but my mother was obliged to tell him in answer to a question, and I had to
tell him again, as he did not seem to realise it. He cried when my mother told him, and when she said Nanna would come to tea, etc., he said, "I shan't like it that way at all."
Nanna went on Friday night, and on Sunday afternoon I took him to see her, having first sent a note to say that I had told him the truth. It was heart-breaking to see him; he would be cheerful for a little while, and then a sob would come into his voice. In the village, I said, "There's a big dog," but he only said "yes" without looking at it. He could not keep back his tears, and said his little sad "Wipe my eyes." Directly he saw Nanna he burst into tears, and hid his face on her breast. I went away or I should have been crying too, as were poor old Parslow and Mrs Parslow. I heard Nanna saying she would often come to see him, and his answer, "It won't do, Nanna." She came up to tea and put him to bed, and did not leave until he was asleep.… Nanna has been heroic, thinking entirely of him and not showing her own grief.… I think the little dear clings to me more than ever now that Nanna has gone. I was telling him about our old Welsh cook, Mrs Davis, how we called Dady and how we used play with her in the kitchen. He asked: "Did Mim (G. H. D.) play too?" I said yes, and then he asked, "And Baba (C. D.) too?" Baba has been full of feeling about the parting with Nanna.
No. 157. April 9, 1881.— B. has become quite cheerful and seems fond of Pauline [Pauline Badel, his Swiss nurse] who is merry and bright.… I
have to work hard cutting ancient Britons for him out of blue paper, and then they fight pirates and get wounded, and have to be doctored with imaginary black - currant jelly.… Yesterday I thought his ancient Britions were in the drawing-room, but he said they were upstairs. I went to look, though he assured that it was no use looking there. I said that he had been quite right, to which he answered, in an insinuating voice, "Were you a little bit wrong?"
No. 158. April 12, 1881.—I walked with Sir John and Conny Lubbock to play lawn-tennis at High Elms. I thought poor little B. looked rather pathetic at seeing me go off, so I asked him if I should come to tea. I rushed back in time for it, and it was delightful to see his triumph. He said, "Ubbady (Bessy) was almost sure you wouldn't be back, but I told her you said you was going to have tea with me, so I guessed you'd be here." He wanted to know what the Lubbocks said about my coming away. Then: "And all the time it was to have tea with me." He added, "You didn't tell them why, did you?" Then again: "No, I wanted that to be a secret."
No. 160. April 16, 1881.—B. was rather amusing the other day. I asked him if he wasn't tired and he said, "No, I'm never tired, and never hungry, and never thirsty." … I wish you could see him cutting out things he calls soldiers; they are extraordinary creatures; he does them quickly and neatly, and very patiently; if he spoils one he
burns it, and starts cheerfully on another.… I sometimes hope his poor little nose is getting bigger, but perhaps "the wish is father, etc."
No. 161. April 19, 1881.—I had a rather pathetic scene with B. I had been playing with him out of doors, and then said I would go in and tell Pauline to come. B.: "Perhaps Idy'll [Mrs H. D.] want me." F. D.: "I'm afraid she's gone upstairs." B.: "Perhaps somebody'll want me." I could not find any one, and proposed to fetch Pauline if he would stay there. He answered "yes" in a patient little voice, but I saw he was going to cry, so I said I would stay with him.… So we went off quite happy to get water to put in his pond.
No. 162. April 24, 1881.—I had been away for a night, and when I came back B. gave me such a nice "Well, Dad," and jumped up to be kissed.
His amusement now is to cut out an indefinitely shaped bit of paper, and colour it red on one side and blue on the other. The papers have pin-holes pricked in them through which he looks at a candle. He puts them in little folded bits of paper, which he calls books. They are supposed to belong to the two Swiss dolls Golden Docks and Golden Brown, who bring them to me to be looked at.
No. 164. May 17, 1881 [from Strassburg].—I have heard from my mother and Bessy about poor dear little B. After I went he sat and looked at pictures and asked a cheerful question, and then moaned, and so on. It was heart-breaking to see
him give a rush at me in the hall, just as I was going. He went to tea at Nanna's afterwards and was quite cheerful.
No. 165. May 27, 1881, Strassburg.—I hear from Down that poor little B. attaches himself closely to dear old Leo on his Sunday visits, and almost cries when L. goes. He is always planning an attack on Strassburg, till de Bary [the Professor at Strassburg], says, "Mr Dada, you must really go home or we shall all be killed." I wished for B. very much when I saw the Uhlans marching to church in their best uniforms, all yellow in front.… I hear that the delightful Jackson has been making a sentry-box for B. in the orchard.
No. 167. June 10, 1881, Strassburg.—I sent B. a lot of brown Austrian artillerymen, which I hear gave him untold satisfaction.… He wrote to me that he had torn one of them, but Boo [H. D.] mended it. I hear that he threw his arms round Bessy in a tragic manner when the accident happened.
No. 169. June 22, 1881, Strassburg.—It is very good of you (Mrs Ruck) to tell me such a delightful deal about B., and it is sweet to think of the little dear creature being so faithful to me, and remembering me.
No. 172. September 3, 1881, Down.—I had a touch of my lumbago again, and B. was so sweet; he kept saying, "Oh, poor Dada," and insisted on kissing my coat in the small of my back. Something made me rather feverish with a bad headache, and I told
him that I was afraid he would not be able to come into my bed in the morning, at which he was quite inconsolable, so I said I would send for him if I was well enough; and luckily I was. He came snuggling close to me, saying, "I want to get near you so I can kiss you when I want to."
No. 174. September 7, 1881.—To-day is B.'s birthday. I heard him saying to Harriet, "I'm five to-day, I was only four yesterday, and I've got a birthday present, Dada gave me a pistol." I went to London yesterday, partly to get the said pistol: this made poor little B. cry, although I said I was going to get him something.… I was horrified to find that the trigger was too strong to be pulled, but … I believe he likes it better now that he only fires it in imagination.… We put it safe behind his pillow, and he kept getting up to have another look at it. Bessy gave him a red cap like a French officer's, so he is very ferocious to-day.
No. 176. September 10, 1881.—I must tell you about B. and the new cousin. I told him that Aunt Elly had a baby who was his cousin; he said rather indignantly, "But I've never seen him, so he can't be." I assured him it was so, and he said, "Well, I shall get my soldiers and fight him, I don't want him to be alive." … B. is not very respectful to me, and calls me all the names he can think of, from "little demon" or "mannikin" to "foolish old man." He wanted to explain some military point to Bessy, and began, "Well you know what a soldier is?" He
was delighted when, by a stroke of genius, I recognised a drawing of his as the battle of Inkermann.
No. 177. September 13, 1881.—I should like B. to know about his mother some day, and I should not like anybody but you to tell him.… My father can only remember his mother by her black velvet gown. I wonder whether it occurs to B. that he has no mother. Bessy was talking about Mrs A. and her daughter, and B. said, "Why, can a lady have a daughter? I thought only gentlemen had daughters." … He is very full of drawing, and copies things out of books with endless satisfaction; he is always perfectly pleased with them, and says, "Didn't I do it well."
No. 178. September 19, 1881.—It is odd how particular B. is about the least blemish on anything he is fond of. This morning he brought some Imperial Guards into my bed "to talk to"; but he discovered that one horse's leg was torn off, and immediately got out of bed and put them on the chest of drawers, as quite unfit for use. … I think the beginning of "Off the Skelligs" is the best picture of the inscrutability of a child's mind that I ever met with.
No. 179. September 22, 1881.—Yesterday morning B. came snuggling close to me in bed and said, "Well, you nice old Dada, you're the nicest person in the world." … I found him one day pulling a leaf in two and sprinkling it with dirt; he said in reply to my inquiry, "I'm doing a little 'speriment."
No. 181. September 27, 1881.—I had been away at Cambridge, and when I got back B. gave me a delightful welcome, rushing into my arms with, "It is you at last."
No. 183. October 3, 1881.—B. insists on my playing an extraordinary game with him. I say "Well, Mr One," and he repeats it: then I say "Well, Mr Two," and so on. When I had got to "Well, Mr Sixty-one," he said, "Don't you think we've counted long enough?" Another game is calling each other Sunlight, Moonlight, etc.: it is very funny to hear him struggling with "Well, Mr Incandescent Carbon Light."
No. 185. November 28, 1881. [B. coming home to Down].—He was much excited at the thought of Down, and kept saying, "It will be hooray to-morrow." In the train he said that he shouldn't believe it till he saw John, and in the carriage he was jumping about with delight. The picture of Arabs attacking a French square in the illustrated paper was a great amusement to him on the journey, and he looked at it continuously for I don't know how long, making plans for introducing the Arabs to the French soldiers at Down, so as to make them friends.
No. 186. December 2, 1881.—I went to Patience the night I was in town. It is certainly very funny. B. was much pleased at Swears and Wells [who made his clothes] coming in, and I have to sing "We are Howell and James young men, We are Swears and Wells young girls," over and over again.
No. 188. December 16, 1881.—Just before I went away yesterday, B. said, "I think I'll go upstairs now for fear I should cry." The other day I brought him an aerated bun for tea, and when it had been cut up I said, "I am going to have a bit of your bun." To which he cheerfully answered, "Don't take the bit with the lemon peel on it, for goodness' sake."
No. 192. January 19, 1882.—I said good-bye to B. who said, with a little choke, "You're coming back to-morrow?" He calls me Dadakins, also "You dear little man." He has been using my father's gigantic silk handkerchiefs [for a cold?], which look very comic being about as big as a towel for one of us.
No. 193. January 21, 1882.—He has invented a new kind of gee-gee ride; I kneel on the sofa and he rides on me, and then I kick about until he comes off, which is the object of the amusement.
No. 195. February 1, 1882.—B. is very well again, and drawing like mad: in imitation of Col. Seccombe, we have christened the little book B. drew at Aberdovey—Lieut.-Col. B.'s Birthday Book for Grown Up People.
No. 196. February 21, 1882.—B. always has a little bit of chocolate when he finishes his playing with me after his dinner: one day there was not any, so he had a bit sweet-stuff out of his elegant box, but he would not take it without warning me that he had already had a bit.
No. 197. February 24, 1882.—I send you a poem which he composed. I can't make out that he got the
idea of the sparrows shouting hurrah from anywhere; it is rather like Walt Whitman, I think!
"Buds do come
And the Spring does come
And the Robin sings
Swing swong swing swong
And the Lark goes:—
Twit twit twit twit twit
And the Sparrow shouts hurrah
Because the Spring has come."
No. 198. February 24, 1882.—B. was delighted yesterday; I made a castle for him of wooden bricks and then proposed to hang a light in it. So he rushed upstairs with me and watched with the deepest anxiety while I bored holes in a tin lid and fitted wires to it so that I could hang a nightlight in the castle. He was rather uneasy at taking the night-light, and said, "I don't know whether they'll like it." However, we hung the light inside the castle, and he was delighted, and capered about saying, "Doesn't it look pooty?" We put out the lights in the room so as to see the gleams coming through the chinks between the bricks.
No. 199. March 2, 1882.—I am very glad that you like B.'s "poentry," as he calls it: we studiously avoid letting him discover that there is no n in it. He has a wonderful game now: he hangs on to the swing and drops off on purpose, pretending to hurt himself, and abusing the French fairy who is supposed to make him fall. My mother heard him this morning playing by himself, pretending to cry, and calling out "méchant, vilain" to the fairy. He knows
a wonderful lot of French words, all the common things you can think of; for instance, the difference between cloche a big bell, and sonnette a small one; and he is not to be puzzled by chevaux and cheveux.
No. 204. March 15?, 1882.—B. has been happy making a slate house in the garden for the emperor of the dwarfs, who is a small paper figure with a hump and a red nose. He has a garden of wall-flowers stuck into the ground, and a shrubbery of box twigs; also a lake with a boat on it.… He won't let me call him tu, he says it must be vous; tu is too ugly, and he won't have it.
No. 205. March 18, 1882.—B. is very proud now: he goes out on the donkey with only Fred and no Pauline; he has a full-sized riding whip, with which he bangs the donkey. I have just seem him jog by, waving his whip to me triumphantly.
No. 205A. March 22, 1882.—Your two pretty books arrived to-day. B. was much excited at books from Mrs Ruck, and inquired anxiously if there were "pixtures" in them.… We were rather hurried over them, as I was going away, but we shall have a good look, and shall study the "poentry." He tried to make poetry about them but got no further than "Two little books with yellow lids"—his word for the cover of a book.… He is always inventing names for me, and trying them on, as it were. For instance, "Well, Mr Brownbeard, how do you like that name? Dear little Mr Green-eyes, how do you like that?"
No. 206. March 23, 1882.—The other day I told B. not to bang the door; the next day he didn't succeed very well, but the day after he shut it with tremendous gentleness. When I praised him he said it was a surprise he did for me, showing that he meant to please me.
No. 207. March 25, 1882.—It is pretty to see B.'s intense delight when he gets into the swing of a drawing; he puts a new thing into his picture, and rushes to show it to one. Then something else occurs to him, and down that goes. The whole being interspersed with such questions as: "Is this pretty well, well, or very well done?" And at the end he looks at it with joy, and says, "It's a very amoosing little pixture."
No. 208. March 31, 1882.—Did I give you the episode of the napkin? I told B. that he ought to learn to fold up his napkin, on which he looked very cross, and refused to try. I told him he ought to do so, but he went off to wash his hands, apparently unconvinced. When he came down I didn't seem much inclined for play, and he said, " I will fold it to-morrow," and burst into tears. Next day he spread the napkin on the floor, and folded it beautifully.… He is very fond of Laura Forster, who is delightful with him. He waits on her and makes her have a great many helps of salt and pepper.
No. 213. April 15, 1882.—B. has come in wet through in a thunder shower, and very proud of it. He says that Daisy (the donkey) was frightened
and Fred was frightened, but whether B. was so, history sayeth not.
No. 220. September 2, 1882.—I forgot to tell you that I came across such a sweet letter from my father to Haeckel telling him of [A. R. D.'s] death. It ended: "It is the greatest misfortune that has happened to me in my life." It was beautiful of him to take the sorrow to himself so closely.… I wish I had B.'s memory, who has past events focussed as under a microscope.… Every night he pours out a glass of water in my room, and I have to pretend it is for the King of the Cannibal Islands—his own best Sunday water, and I have to prevent B. stealing it.
No. 221. September 9, 1882.—Poor little B. had a disappointment. Henrietta was coming here, and he kept asking what present she would bring him, and when we said that perhaps she would forget his birthday, he was sure she would not. But alas, she did; the only pretence of a present that she could muster was his Baby's Opera newly bound, for which he said "Thank you" in rather a flat voice. He is going to begin reading to himself; he nearly rebelled at this, but when I told him that he ought to, and left him to himself, he shortly afterwards came and told me cheerfully that he had read some. Bessy gave him a set of cricket things, and they had a grand match, Pauline, Jackson, Minny Dickson, and himself. Pauline is a fine hitter.
No. 223. September 16, 1882.—B. announced that he had a cold, and next day when I said it wasn't
bad, he said: "But I've caught some more of it this morning."
No. 225. September 19, 1882.—The great event of yesterday was James the footman going away to a new place. B. was found in floods of tears, and seems to have infected Pauline, as she too was crying.… B. told me that he liked James much better than Jackson, to which Pauline prudently said no more than "Oh." B. went on, "He's much taller than Jackson," which (by the way) is not true.
No. 227. September 23, 1882.—B. is very abusive in his language, and generally addresses me as villain — scaramouche — scoundrel, or some such combination. He is eternally planning uniforms for an imaginary army, and then changing them. He says: "I think my lancers shall wear chainarmour trousers, green shawls, and bearskins." The officers having parrot-feathers in their bearskins.
No. 228. September 29, 1882.—Yesterday at dinner B. remarked with a grin, "Two little piggywigs all alone."
No. 229. September 30, 1882.—Yesterday B. announced that he was going to have a sale, so I helped him to arrange tin soldiers, dominoes, a tin cab, balls, a wooden dagger, and an old saloon pistol, and we made a list of them. Lot 20 was the seat of the old yellow gee-gee carriage, covered with M. D'A.'s ornithorhyncus skin, and described as a photographic camera. All the maids and menservants attended: Jackson was auctioneer, and I
heard lively bidding, with a ripple of chuckles from B.
No. 230. October 2, 1882.—We had a tragedy yesterday. We went out to fly his new kite, which H. E. L. gave him on his birthday. It went gorgeously with its long tail, made by the faithful Jackson, and B. was much excited. But I am out of practice in kite-flying, and it got stuck on the top of a high tree. No tears were shed because he hoped we should get it down. I climbed next day as near to it as I could, but we could not rescue it.
No. 231. 1882 ?—B. has a little word I like—"Nim-a-nim-nim": he constantly uses it as a sort of greeting for me when he has nothing particular to say. It means, "Well, how are you getting along?" He is trying to learn to unbutton his clothes, and finds it very difficult. By the way a Frenchman points out that on men's clothes the buttons are on the right side, and on women's on the left.
No. 233. March 16, 1883 [dated Springfield, Cambridge].—B. has been a delightful companion to me, and we have both enjoyed our tête-à-tête meals. He has been much amused at playing the old schoolboy game of spinning a knife on the table and saying that whoever it points to when it stops spinning is the biggest fool, the nicest, etc. We are so few, only B., me, and Jumbo the black cat, that we have to take in the cream jug, tea-pot, etc. And we ask such questions as, "Who is the
tea-pottest person present?" He was much pleased when Jumbo was declared to be the whitest, and B. the blackest person present.
No. 234. March 27, 1883.—Poor B. is rather unwell, with twinges of headache and earache. He has a rash which he says hurts him to sit on, and caused him to shed some tears to-day when he told me of it. He does much building of towers with bricks, and draws Ali-Baba's.… But the only thing that really pleased him was a discussion as to whether one ought to say "a butcher-boy azure" or a "butcher-boy proper."
In 1883 I was married to Ellen Crofts of Newnham College, Cambridge, who was the mother of my daughter, Mrs Cornford of Cambridge. Ellen died in 1903.
No. 236. June 19, 1883.—Ellen, to whom I was soon to be married, spoke humbly and lovingly of her relationship to B., and I am sure she will be good to him.
No. 241. December 10, 1883, 80 Huntingdon Road.—B. is very full of the Lays of Ancient Rome, and we do much fighting as Herminius or Spurius or false Sextus. He has drawn two large pictures of Horatius at the bridge, one of which he presented to me. He has not lost his demonstrativeness, and puts his arms round me, saying, "You dear old Dada." His favourite greeting to Ellen is to bump his forehead very gently against her's. He is always asking how she is.
No. 242. December 15, 1883.—I have been doing some Latin with B., and I am surprised at the ease with which he remembers all the idiotic declensions.… B. is very busy copying out the Lays of Ancient Rome, and illustrating it with pictures.
No. 243. March 3, 1884.—Ernest Crofts was very nice to B. and brought him a lovely jumping frog, which is a joy to all of us. B. is still mad over stamps, and invents stamps for legal documents like those he saw on a transfer of mine. He draws and paints them, and then gets me to sign his documents, which he witnesses himself.
No. 245. March 5, 1884.—Ellen's hair has been coming off, so she has had it cut short, and B. calls her "Parrot-tailed-Cockatoo-tufted Ellen." He gets on with his lessons very well. I think (as B. thinks too) that geography is too great bosh.… He rather triumphs over his co-pupils, and comes home saying, "I say! Douglas Barton doesn't know the first declension."
No. 246. May 14, 1884.—We are rather sad about B.'s temper. It is certainly getting worse; he sulks when told to do anything that gives him a little trouble. He never used to sulk—now he looks at one like a murderer if told to put his orange-peel tidily on a plate. On Sunday we were playing cricket, and I put him out, on which he went into a perfect fury, making a growling noise and swinging his bat fiercely. I hope it will all
turn into energy, but the process may be unpleasant while it lasts.… I like your fishing news, it brings a whiff of rivers, streams, and shining fish.
No. 247. May 17, 1884.—B. got into a rage yesterday because he lost a stamp. I told him that he ought to try to stop getting into such rages, and Ellen also said she wished he wouldn't. He said, "Well I won't": he found his stamp afterwards, so all was well.
No. 248. June 2, 1884.—B. has taken to lawntennis, and I can see that he has a good eye; I think he will get on if he doesn't take failures too much to heart.… We had a small dinner party last night, and B. had his orange with us, and went off with a handful of raisins, which he called "the spoils of Delphi." It is curious how much he cares for Greek things. He is also deeply anxious to see a collection of the portraits of the College Founders, which have been got together.
No. 252. September 18, 1884.—B. looks as if he were going to begin sprouting with growth—a sort of leggy look. He wears an enormous straw hat and a blue jersey. We play cricket, and he bowls round-hand with great go and straightness.… He is distracted about Goths, Vandals, Lombards, etc., and always asking me ethnological questions which I cannot answer.
No. 254. October 22, 1884.—B. has invented a new kind of chess with only pawns.
No. 255. October 29, 1884.—B. has been much excited by a collection of coins which the gardener
has made. He now draws coins with "Dubba Rex" on them. He is enjoying the Arabian Nights; he writes stories in imitation of them, and has long discussions with Ellen about the nature of genii, e.g., as to whether they are smoke in early childhood and finally grow into genii. He and Willy Clark acted charades the other day; they discussed each scene in loud voices behind the curtain, which helped us to guess or we should never have succeeded.
No. 261. December 2, 1884.—B. has great fun with snowballs, throwing at anybody who will be thrown at.
No. 262. December 6, 1884.—B. is very happy with a real golf club which I have given to him. It is a driver cut down. The Professional did not approve of him driving with an old putter, it would get him into a bad swing. It is sad to hear this Professional losing his Scotch; he says, "It's aboot—about—a hundred yards."
No. 263. December 11, 1884.—Poor B. went down to the links to try his new club, and smashed it: he turned pink and tears came; … now it is mended and he hits very well.
No. 264. December 16, 1884.—B. goes to Miss Smith for lessons; I think he must have a mathematical turn because he makes new propositions of Euclid. They are simple combinations of old ones, and some are circular in argument; but they show a wish to make original use of Euclid, at which I am surprised.
No. 265. December 18, 1884. [Moving into Wychfield].—I had a little crisis with B. yesterday. He asked me to come and see him playing patience, and insisted on dealing the cards so that every one was curled up. He wouldn't try to do it anyhow else, so I went away. When he came to say good-night in a few minutes, he came in quite a good temper, but with tears in his eyes.… We had a good game at a new pastime called mumpkin, and he went to bed quite jolly.
No. 267. December 28, 1884.—B. and Pauline made a Christmas tree, as a great surprise; he had put a notice Private on the nursery door. He bought candles and flags with his own money, and the cook gave them oranges to hang on it, and everybody came and admired. There was rather a grief about it. Pauline had gone out to tea, and owing to a mistake about the time, she was late; and B. was so excited that he forgot I fancy. Anyhow it was lighted without her, and poor B. wept bitterly about it afterwards.… Miss Clough was here to 5 o'clock tea: B. came in to shake hands, looking fixedly in the wrong direction, and upset her tea, and I had to reprove him.
No. 269. January 1, 1885.—I asked B. how he would like to go to a class with Willy Clark and Ashton Beck, and he said, "Not at all, I should hate it," and nearly wept over it.
No. 270. January 8, 1885.—Yesterday B. and the coachman's boys acted Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in the barn, as a pantomime. B. seemed
very happy all the time, but afterwards was much depressed, and does not like to allude to it. He showed wonderful energy; he had to manage everything, to tell them what to say and to settle their dresses. Also, which was the hardest of all, to force them on to the stage in the face of the audience. The stalls were supplied by a bench in the cow-yard, John and Jackson were the gallery up in the loft. The cave was made of trusses of hay, and the gold consisted of ripe vegetable-marrow and old brass curtain-rods. B., dressed in Ellen's ancient red gymnastic knickerbockers, beating a drum (in place of a tambourine) and dancing about in the character of Morgiana, was lovely. The same drum served as a measure for the gold, and as the kettle of hot oil. B. never got the Skinners to say a word, and this was his chief trouble. Although it was broad daylight they had a lighted stable lantern hung from a beam; also a bull's-eye lamp (with no oil in it) hung by a rope, in which they caught their feet every time they went on or off the stage.
No. 274. January 28, 1885. I wanted to tell you about B. and his school, … it has been a great success. Poor little B. is so full of affection for me, he is always coming to me to kiss me, and saying, "Nice little Dada."
No. 276. February 11, 1885.—It is curious what a passion B. has for original research. He spent about an hour in making an imaginary table. So many mumpkins make a lumpkin, and so many of these make a kumpkin; he then worked out a sum in these
denominations. He and Willy Clark have written a play in which occurs: "Exit Ambassador muttering."
No. 277. February 27, 1885.—B. is tremendously enthusiastic over his lessons. I was a little alarmed lest he should work too hard to-day. He set to work after tea at his Latin exercise, writing it out most carefully, and then because it was not quite neat, writing it again.
No. 280. April 9, 1885.—B. had a dreadful cold … and has gone to bed. Ellen is lovely to him and reads to him and plays with him for hours.
No. 281. April 25, 1885.—B.'s report from the Perse School came the other day. He is put down as "very good" in mathematics. I believe he will be good at them; he understands without effort things which I should not expect him to grasp.
No. 285. June 20, 1885.—I had a heart-breaking parting from poor B. He followed me about like a dog, all the afternoon, occasionally kissing my coat, or the nearest bit of me that he could get at, and calling me "Nice little Dada." … I left poor little B. leaning against the wall, crying aloud at my going; he never alters one bit in fidelity, poor good little boy.
No. 286. June 26, 1885.—B. is at Barlaston, and very jolly climbing trees and playing in a sand-pit. He has written me two long letters, much more fluent than he ever wrote before, with quite a lot of news.… We meant to take our beloved Otter [a dog] with us but our courage failed; he isn't certain enough in his behaviour for strange houses.
No. 287. November 15, 1885.—B. has been playing football all the morning with Walter Skinner, who, being weak in the legs, falls an easy victim, and B. got seven goals to one. He is always talking football: this sort of thing: "Scott of Corpus is a splendid player; he kicked two goals against the Harlequins; he plays half-back, etc., etc.".
No. 289. December 5, 1885.—On Thursday B. went out for a ride and returned in a cab. He walked in and burst into tears, saying that he had cut his knee. He ran against a cart full of drunken electors, or rather they ran against him.… The first day, when the doctor told him that he must not use it, he got into a rage, threw his book on the ground, and refused to go on to the sofa. So I said that I should leave him until he was more reasonable at which he said, "Well, go along with you, I don't care if you do." But since then he has been perfectly good and patient, and has played endless racegames. Ellen has been very good to him, as she always is.
No. 290. December 10, 1885.—B. has gone through his examination, and we are going to the school prize-giving. I hope he may get one, but I doubt it. He really has a wonderful turn for saying poetry; it is quite a pleasure to hear him. He says it slowly, and yet with fire at the right moments.
No. 291. December 22, 1885.—B. went to a grand party in Caius Hall. It was rather stupid, being mostly dancing; but B. enjoyed playing football with four or five boys, using a ball made of scrunched up
paper. He complained, however, that the dancers were in the way.
No. 293. January 3, 1886, Felixtowe.—B. is very jolly at the Grove, and is learning whist. He is apparently determined not to have Talleyrand's triste vieillesse.
No. 294. January 18, 1886.—I took him to start skating. He was alarmed at first, but soon began to shuffle about, and I thought it a prosperous beginning, when he fell on his face so suddenly that he could not save himself with his hands.… He made his face bleed, and had a great blue lump on his forehead; but he soon cheered up and said skating was jolly.
No. 296. January 29, 1886, Cambridge.—Last night Ellen, B., and I went to Hamlet.… He liked it very much, and was impressed by the ghost but not frightened, and laughed delightfully at anything comic.
No. 299. February 19, 1886.—Poor B. is not quite well; I think his inside is to blame. He is very sweet when he is ill. Yesterday, when I was sitting with him, he kissed my hand and stroked my face, saying, "Dear little Dada."
No. 301. March 5, 1886.—I played various games with B. all Sunday—football, golf, and battledore, and on Monday rejoiced the cockles of his heart by keeping up to 756.… He is getting into the lanky stage instead of the fat little boy stage.
No. 302. March 15, 1886.—B. plays hours of football by himself.
No. 303. March 19, 1886.—B. is tremendously excited over Old Mortality which he has the good taste to prefer to Ivanhoe, but not to Treasure Island, which is at the top of his list.
No. 304. March 26, 1886.—B. is having an easy time of it at school, as two boys have gone and he is easily top, which is bad for his morals; but I don't think it makes him take less pains, he has the working instinct.
No. 305. March 31, 1886. [My daughter Frances born].—B. is much annoyed that it is a girl, and said, "Hang it, I'd rather there was no baby than a girl."
No. 308. May 17, 1886.—B. is full of the opening of the cricket season, and writes out elaborate imaginary matches, which entail much arithmetic, as he wants one side to make 592 and the other 593.
No. 319. August 14, 1886.—B. is very bright, and as good and affectionate as can be. He came to meet me at Orpington Station, and jumped down from the wagonette to give me a hug. I took him for a swimming lesson in London … the man said he was going to swim well.
No. 321. September 2, 1886, Felixstowe.—B. and I came here on Monday and Ellen on Tuesday. B. is awfully happy; he feels the difference in air, and said it makes him feel so enthusiastic. He kept kissing my hand, and calling me "dear little Dada," which is a pleasant form of enthusiasm. He enjoys bathing apturously.
No. 322. September 14, 1886, Felixstowe.—B. looks like a gipsy, he is so burnt. He plays golf all day, and is really getting on. He plays one of the short holes about fifty times a day by himself with perfect contentment.
No. 323. September 21, 1886.—B. has just got into a new class (with harder work); it does seem folly beginning Greek, but it can't be helped, I am determined to be conservative in education.… The golfers at Felixstowe were very kind to B., especially a placid white-headed one called Graham, whom I liked extremely. His calm good manners were a perpetual lesson to one.
No. 324. September 27, 1886.—I am sure B. will be a great swell at golf some day.
No. 325. October 6, 1886.—B. is working like a Trojan; he certainly has the working instinct finely developed—as well as the playing one.
No. 328. October 30, 1886.—Frances has an instinct for golf; she watched me putting with the deepest interest. Cannot you imagine how B. will insist on teaching her to play. It is nice to think what a good brother she will have; the way he plays with Gwen is very pretty.
No. 330. December 7, 1886.—B. is much excited, waiting for the examinations to begin. I think he secretly expects to get a prize, but I guess he won't as he only got into this form in September. He has a passion for history, and likes it better than his other lessons. He is so eager over his
work, that if I suggest that it is too wet for him to go, he says it isn't too wet and goes. I do not like to check his ardour. He is very fond of Frances; he plays bo-poop with her very nicely, and is always eager for her to come down.
No. 333. December 26, 1886.—B. is rejoicing in many presents, chiefly eatable, but he is so prudent that it really does not hurt him. He is looking forward to Aberdovey very much, and keeps telling me that he wishes I were coming.
No. 334. 1886.—B. is not quite well … and I am going to take him to Down on Saturday; I can only be there till Monday, but he will be quite happy with his faithful Nanna.… He is delighted to go; he is very faithful to Down.
No. 335. ? 1886.—Did I tell you that a man called Tindall-Atkinson is coming to make a red chalk head of B. for six guineas.…
No. 340. February 19, 1887.—B. is mad over drawing maps; he has to do some for school, but he does others for pleasure; if he was not such a lover of games I should think it an alarming symptom. He is also hot on stamps, and generally has crumpled duplicates in his waistcoat pocket. He is much more successful than I ever was in keeping a watch going.
No. 341. October 9, 1887.—It is sad without poor B., and I often think the click of the gate is him coming back from school. Still I am glad he is gone; if he is to get a scholarship at Eton he is
none too forward. He has written long letters every Sunday, and last week wrote to Bessy as well. [He was at Mrs Maclaren's school at Oxford.]
No. 344 December 22, 1887.—Mrs Maclaren says B. has got on very well in the second half of the term, and she has hopes of his getting into Eton after all. The loyal Ellen says she is quite certain he will get in.… I wonder whether you have heard that there is a boy born at George's, so poor B. is dethroned from his proud position as head of the family.
No. 345. December 24, 1887.—B. is just the same and tumbles into his place at home delightfully. We met at the station at Oxford, and he came tearing down the platform, with his hat-box and bag in his hand, to hug me. He was much excited at getting home, and kept saying in the train: "Nicey tea in nicey dining-room."
No. 347. April 21, 1891, from Ragaz.—B. and I had a good walk yesterday into a gorge where the cliffs meet overhead, and form a natural bridge. Two hundred years ago there was here a hospital built on beams fixed into the cliff, and belonging to a monastery, where people came to bathe in the hot spring that runs into the river. On the rock is a natural stain which is astonishingly like the Virgin and Child.
OLIVER AND BOYD
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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)
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