Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Childhood memories

I suppose that if I live even to middle age some sorrows will have thrown their shadow over the sunlight of my life. Therefore I would remember as distinctly as may be what my early years have been, that in future times, when perchance their brightness has passed forever from me, I may think of them, with much sadness no doubt, but I trust with greater fondness, and thank God for the exceeding happiness wherewith my life opened. For this purpose I mean to write an account of my life, to finish for the present with my Confirmation.

I was born in London on the 5th Sept. 1841, being the second child of my parents ; my sister was fourteen months older than myself. I was baptized at a month old by the name of Lucy Caroline : the first name after a family ancestress of great goodness ; the second after my godmothers, both of whom had the same name. I believe I was a pretty baby, but must have given more trouble than I was worth by convulsions, etc., which gave some anxiety and left me a very whining, fretful child, even when I was put into short frocks and able to toddle. I had hardly reached this stage of exist¬ence when my eldest brother was born in October 1842, and we were three babies together in the dear dear big nursery on the third floor of the house. This room faced the S. and W. It may have been different quite at first to what it is now, but my earliest remembrances of it show it to me almost exactly as I see it at present. Two windows ; the work-table, much battered, dirty red, with a curious round hole in it that I was always poking my finger through, standing in one ; a high white cupboard where the toys were kept, in the other, with flower-pots standing on the top. A massive, towering, white wardrobe, with deep drawer forming its lower part, stood in one corner, filled with frocks, linen, etc. ; and where the ornamental pin-cushion little basket, Xning cap, powder-box, etc., were always kept before an expected Baby required them. A dark wood cupboard, also of great height and based by drawers, [stood] against one wall, wherein the break¬fast, dinner, and tea things were kept, with cold plum-pudding wont to be preserved from the servants' supper. The fireplace on your left as you go in, with a heavy carved old-fashioned mantel-shelf ; half-way up the wall two large rows of bookshelves hung up, whereon grotesque china ornaments, superior toys only played with on grand occasions, and a very few books stood, the latter consisted of a portentous family medicine-book and suchlike drab-coloured volumes. A large map, always my great delight, representing all the birds, beasts, and fish imaginable, and many old prints of foreign men and women, the principal picture being one of the Queen and Duchess of Kent, standing as if they were about to set off on a polka, completed the decorations of the walls. In early times a swing hung from the ceiling ; the hooks used for that purpose remain there now. By the fireplace stood the little low rocking-chair wherein I fancy we have all been sent to sleep. The middle table was round, the carpet and paper bright.

That is the dear old nursery. I have spoken of it in the past tense because I am writing of byegone times, but it is essentially the same now.

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