So, again, she would at almost any time spend half an hour in arranging my hair, 'making it,' as she called it, 'beautiful,' or in smoothing, the poor dear darling, my collar or cuffs--in short, in fondling me.

"Beside her joyousness thus tempered, she was in her manners remarkably cordial, frank, open, straightforward, natural, and without any shade of reserve. Her whole mind was pure and transparent. One felt one knew her thoroughly and could trust her. I always thought, that come what might, we should have had in our old age at least one loving soul which nothing could have changed. All her movements were vigorous, active, and usually graceful. When going round the Sand-walk with me, although I walked fast, yet she often used to go before, pirouetting in the most elegant way, her dear face bright all the time with the sweetest smiles. Occasionally she had a pretty coquettish manner towards me, the memory of which is charming. She often used exaggerated language, and when I quizzed her by exaggerating what she had said, how clearly can I now see the little toss of the head, and exclamation of 'Oh, papa what a shame of you!' In the last short illness her conduct in simple truth was angelic. She never once complained; never became fretful; was ever considerate of others, and was thankful in the most gentle, pathetic manner for everything done for her. When so exhausted that she could hardly speak, she praised everything that was given her, and said some tea 'was beautifully good.' When I gave her some water she said, 'I quite thank you;' and these, I believe, were the last precious words ever addressed by her dear lips to me.

"We have lost the joy of the household, and the solace of our old age. She must have known how we loved her. Oh, that she could now know how deeply, how tenderly, we do still and shall ever love her dear joyous face! Blessings on her!

"April 30, 1851."

We his children all took especial pleasure in the games he played at with us, but I do not think he romped much with us; I suppose his health prevented any rough play. He used sometimes to tell us stories, which were considered especially delightful, partly on account of their rarity.

The way he brought us up is shown by a little story about my brother Leonard, which my father was fond of telling. He came into the drawing- room and found Leonard dancing about on the sofa, which was forbidden, for the sake of the springs, and said, "Oh, Lenny, Lenny, that's against all rules," and received for answer, "Then I think you'd better go out of the room." I do not believe he ever spoke an angry word to any of his children in his life; but I am certain that it never entered our heads to disobey him. I well remember one occasion when my father reproved me for a piece of carelessness; and I can still recall the feeling of depression which came over me, and the care which he took to disperse it by speaking to me soon afterwards with especial kindness. He kept up his delightful, affectionate manner towards us all his life. I sometimes wonder that he could do so, with such an undemonstrative race as we are; but I hope he knew how much we delighted in his loving words and manner. How often, when a man, I have wished when my father was behind my chair, that he would pass his hand over my hair, as he used to do when I was a boy. He allowed his grown-up children to laugh with and at him, and was, generally speaking, on terms of perfect equality with us.

He was always full of interest about each one's plans or successes. We used to laugh at him, and say he would not believe in his sons, because, for instance, he would be a little doubtful about their taking some bit of work for which he did not feel sure that they had knowledge enough. On the other hand, he was only too much inclined to take a favourable view of our work. When I thought he had set too high a value on anything that I had done, he used to be indignant and inclined to explode in mock anger. His doubts were part of his humility concerning what was in any way connected with himself; his too favourable view of our work was due to his sympathetic nature, which made him lenient to every one.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I Page 57

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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