“I am awfully tired of never being able to do what I want. What I would like is to have the dog to sleep with me, and to make myself as dirty as possible, and to cram all the lace off my cradle into my mouth. I wish they wouldn’t talk silly baby talk to me all day, and I wish they’d leave off saying: ‘Oh, how like he is to his dear papa and mamma.’ They won’t let me eat just anything I see; they give me nothing but that dull old bottle. I’ve often managed to throw it down and smash it; but they always give me another. I have so many mothers that I don’t know which is my real mother. My mothers are very beautiful, but I like my nurse best, except, when she dresses me, and sticks pins into me. I am so tired of always being dressed up, and being stared at by people who say: ‘Goo! goo! isn’t he a little sweet!” I should like to say what sillies I think them, but I can’t; so I only look at them—and sometimes I make a pet lip.”
“What I like is getting hold of bits of orangepeel, or herring-ends, and chewing them. I always like to be eating —it doesn’t matter what. Sometimes I get a pain in my stomach, and then my mother whacks me for crying. I like the mangy cats that play about our street, and I try to get hold of their tails and make them spit. It’s almost as nice as playing mud pies. I am hardly ever washed, except when I tumble into the coals, or roll in the gutter. My mother always has a red face, and I know she’s my mother because she always shakes me up so hard, but sometimes she’s kind, and wraps me up nice, in a red shawl and blue fishing-cap, and takes me off to the public round the corner; and then I open my eyes and stare at the gas, and mother has her hot gin and water, and says to the neighbours: ‘Bless the bubby, ‘e’s as good as gowld!” And it’s nice when the sun shines, and there’s bits to pick up, and our mothers aren’t cross.”
The Quiver, 1895
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This piece was written around the first birthday of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, later, briefly, King Edward VIII.
One shudders at the mother with the red face, who, one fears, gave a sip of that hot gin and water to “the bubby,” although Mrs Daffodil might suggest that courtiers simpering “goo goo” at a royal infant are equally damaging.
With the birth of Princess Charlotte, Prince George will, undoubtedly have his nose a bit out of joint and make a “pet lip” with his rosebud mouth, but, of course, it is easier to be a delightful big brother when one is the heir.
Mrs Daffodil has written several times on royal babies and their royal or imperial Mamas, as in this post on royal cradles, this one on an amusing imaginary nursery contretemps by Prince Albert, and this collection of royal baby anecdotes.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.