Tag Archives: Father’s Day

Papa Not a Very Acceptable Guest: 1752

LYONS, March 5.

AN Affair has lately broke out here which is very remarkable. An eminent Trader of this City, who had acquired an easy Fortune, had a Couple of handsome Daughters, whom he married to his Liking, and divided between them all he had, upon an Agreement that he should pass the Winter with the one, and the Summer with the other. Before the End of the first Year, he found sufficient Grounds to conclude, that he was not a very acceptable Guest to either; of which, however, he took no Notice, but hired a handsome Lodging, in which he resided for a few Weeks. He then applied himself to a Friend, and told him the Truth of the Matter, desired him to give him two hundred Livres, and to lend him fifty thousand in ready Money for a few Hours. His friend very readily complied with his Request. The next Day the old Man made a grand Entertainment, to which his Daughters, and their Husbands, were invited. Just at the Dinner was over, his Friend came in a great Hurry, told him of an unexpected Demand upon him, and desired to know it he could lend him fifty thousand Livres. The old Man told him, without any Emotion, that twice as much was at his Service if he had wanted it; and going into the next Room brought him the Money, After this he was not suffered to stay at longer in his Lodging; his Daughters were Jealous if he remained but a Day more at one House than the other; and after three or four Years spent in this Manner, he died last Month; when upon examining his Cabinet, instead of Riches, there was found a Note, in which were these Words, He who has suffered by his Virtue, has a Right to avail himself of the Vices of those by whom be suffered; and a Father ought never to be so fond of his Children, as to forget what is due to himself .

The Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg, VA] 25 June 1752

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: While not all children are as unfeeling as the daughters above, we have previously seen in these pages the account of a clerical gentleman victimised by his daughter’s caprices in sewing smuggled lace into his overcoat, and a shamefully calculating daughter in The Resurrection of Willie Todd.

Then there is this minx:

The old gentleman went into the parlor the other night, at the witching hour of 11:45, and found the room unlighted and his daughter and a dear friend occupying a tete-a-tete in the corner by the window. ‘Evangeline,’ the old man said, sternly, ‘this is scandalous.’ ‘Yes, papa,’ she answered sweetly, ‘it is candles because times are so hard, and lights costs so much, that Ferdinand and I said we should try and get along with the starlight.’ And papa turned about, in speechless amazement, and tried to walk out of the room through a panel in the wall paper.

Portsmouth [OH] Times 15 December 1877: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil wishes all the fond Papas in her readership a very happy day, as well as grateful-spirited children.

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.

The Young Father Sings to the Baby: 1901

Zealand Herald, Volume LXVIII, Issue 20868, 9 May 1931, Page 2

Zealand Herald, Volume LXVIII, Issue 20868, 9 May 1931, Page 2

Straight Language for the Baby.

“My dear,” said the young father, “there is one request I want to make of you.”

“What is it, dear?”

“I wish, dear, that you wouldn’t talk this baby talk to our child. It’s absurd. The idea of saying ‘kitchey-kitchey-kee” and ‘whose whizzicoons is oo?’ to a human being is little less than barbarous. Don’t let the neighbors do it, either.”

“I’ll try not to, dear,” she answered, patiently. “But it seems to amuse Dorjy so much.”

“Don’t call him ‘Dorjy,’ either. It’s positively idiotic. His name’s George, and there’s no use in starting him out in life with a vocabulary like a Polynesian national hymn.”

“But he’s a little fretful today and wants to be amused.”

“There are rational ways of amusing a child. You can sing to him.”

“I have been singing to him.”

“Well, give him to me and I’ll sing to him awhile.”

She passed the baby over and he proceeded to do his best with the “Toreador’s Song” and the “Bedouin Love Song,” and various other selections. The baby persisted in whimpering. He continued to sing, and presently the little one began to smile. In a little while the little one was fast asleep.

“You have quieted him beautifully,” the mother admitted. “By the way, what was that song you sang over and over again? It is so tuneful and lively.”

“Haven’t you heard that?” he asked in astonishment. “It’s from the latest comic opera, and it’s a corker. The chorus goes:

Toodledy, foodledy, up-idee,

Jimmity, Jammity, jingeree

Biggity, jiggity, rummity-ho !

Blimmity-blam, and away we go.

“I can remember the chorus, but I’m going to buy it and learn the whole thing by heart.”—Tid-Bits.

Locomotive Engineers Journal, Volume 35, 1901

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: While many Victorian fathers had a fearsome reputation as stern and forbidding; their ineptitude with infants was celebrated in legend and joke: they diapered Baby at the wrong end, tossed Junior up in the air to be impaled on the gas fixture, and in general made a hash of things. Mrs Daffodil recalls local mirth about a gentleman who, on being told to feed the baby from a pre-made bottle of formula when its mother was absent, did not remove the tin-foil seal, leaving the child to suckle in vain, while Father shook the bottle, mystified at its failure to empty. Regrettably, one still sees the same theme of foolish fathers in to-day’s television plays and advertisements.

While the absent-mindedness of the father in this next anecdote, told as a true story, might be attributed to his profession, there were other versions of the story in circulation, suggesting the adage: It’s a wise father who knows his own child:

It was in the country, and there were many children in the family. The youngest was a charming little girl, just beginning to trot about prettily. The father was a professor and the mother was a woman much concerned about domestic affairs. One day, looking out the window, the wife saw her husband coming home. As the baby girl, looked particularly pretty she thought she would give a pleasant surprise to the father. She opened the front door—I may mention that the house was built on a hill—and she sent the little girl toddling down. The mother remained peeping through the curtains to watch the meeting of father and daughter. The baby went moving down like a huge white butterfly, her blue ribbons and muslin dress flapping in the summer breeze; the man came along smiling. The mother expected to see the baby snatched up and carried back in triumph. To her horror, the man, just paused for a moment, patted the baby on the head, and let it continue its somewhat dangerous descent. The mother rushed to the door; the man had reached it at the same moment.

Before his wife in her excitement could utter a world he said: “I have just met the most charming little girl running down the hill. She kept smiling at me in the most delightful fashion.” The wife could only indignantly gasp, “It’s baby!” and go rushing after her treasure…The father only added insult to injury by his explanation: “I thought I recognized her; but I was not sure where I had seen her.” T.P.’s Weekly, Vol. 10, 1907 

Mrs Daffodil wishes all of her readers who are indulgent and doting Papas (and who know their children by sight) the happiest of Father’s Days.

Another amusing Father’s Day post: What to Do When Baby Gets a Tooth. 

1895 fathers with children

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.

 

My Daughter Minnie: A Story for Father’s Day: 1860

His Only Child. Mr Doty's Scheme for Retaining His Only Child

His Only Child. Mr Doty’s Scheme for Retaining His Only Daughter, Charles Dana Gibson

MY DAUGHTER MINNIE

A few years ago—well, it is not less than forty—my little home flock was led, in the matter of years, by my daughter Minnie— a pretty name, I always thought. Minnie was a good child, and being the first born, was half maternal in her management of the latter comers, even down to little “Pigeon,” the latest and tiniest of all.

The picture of Minnie is just as fresh in my memory as though the forty years which have simmered and evaporated since, had been weeks instead. But it is a father’s eye that looks over these years at Minnie, and the beauty may be half fancy—a sort of affectional illusion. Those who love are transparent, if you know—we who imagine it is surface tint and surface light of which we are thinking.

This much I know, Minnie was the best, most affectionate and wildest of daughters —one of those spirited but industrious little creatures upon whose enterprise and tact the greatest and strongest of us will involuntarily lean.

‘Minnie, shall I want five or six breadths in this skirt?’ her mother would say.

Looking up, with just a little knitting of the forehead, after a moment’s thought Minnie would answer:

‘I think five will do, mother;’ and five it was.

I can hear, even now, the voice of Minnie’s mother–she has been gone twenty years, dear  heart!—calling from the head of the stairs:

‘Minnie! Say—Minnie!’

‘What, Mother?’

‘What shall we have for dinner to-day?’

‘You are tired, mother; let’s have a little ham and some eggs, with some peas from the garden, and bread.’ That settled the bill of fare.

And so it was through the livelong day; for in all the domestic policy Minnie, though only prime minister, possessed regal power.

At this time—these forty years ago—I was, of course, in the prime of life, and full of the cares and responsibilities which cluster and cling to one’s manhood.

I was largely engaged in the active business, received some light evidences of public confidence, saw a large family coming up about me—from all of which my natural positiveness and force of character received more or less strengthening.

One night, when the last candle had been extinguished and all was hushed, my wife said, with some anxiety of tone.

‘Husband, I feel uneasy about our Minnie.’

‘Minnie? Why, what is the matter? Is she sick?’

‘No; she isn’t sick, but—’

‘But what, wife?’

‘Why, Minnie is—I mean, she seems to be—well, I’m afraid she likes Jemmy Brun.’

‘Jemmy Brun! She’d better not.’ And I leaped to the floor and walked to the window. ‘Jemmy Brun and our Minnie!—a pretty match!’

‘I was afraid you would be disturbed, dear; but don’t take it so much to heart husband. I dare say we can put a stop to it.’ And motherly sobs came from the pillow.

‘Put a stop to it! I guess I will. Jemmy Brun and our Minnie!—I guess I will put a stop to it.’

And who was Jemmy Brun? A young man of some twenty-two years’ residence in the neighborhood, of good habits as far as I know, but altogether and diametrically opposed to my taste, to my ideal of manliness. I had always worshipped business tact and enterprise.

It had taken me, when a penniless boy, and brought me up through numberless difficulties to a position of influence. That which was found in my nature when young, was thus nourished and rooted through all the after years of struggle ripening into triumph.

The young man was of literary turn of mind; and taught in an academy; was a writer, it was said, for one or two periodicals. There was an air of sentiment about him, in his looks and manners, which came precisely within the scope of my contempt. I had known it in others—in strong business men—this utter contempt for the least possible manifestations of sentiment; for those unthrifty fellows who have never an eye or business, but hang upon the skirts of thought, clasp imagery, and ride upon rhythm. You may see it now every day in commercial antagonism of fact and fancy—of the figures which dot the pages of the ledger and those which illumine the lines of the poet. ‘The muses frowned on me,’ said a German poet, ‘for keeping account books.’ Undoubtedly. Nor is the knight of the balance sheet less intolerant toward those miserable fellows whose entire stock in trade can be stored within a very little cavity just behind the frontal bone.

My good wife had a time of it cooling me down, and prevented the adoption of most violent measures. Even when I had formally surrendered to her superior discretion, I chafed by times like a bear in harness. If wife had not been almost a Rarey [a famous horse whisperer] in fact, I should certainly have broken into plunging even sooner than I did.

Minnie was taken one day into solemn conference by her mother, with only pussy in the doorway as auditor. But the child, though she blushed very much, moved about from seat to seat, and tore pieces of paper into bits, declared that she was heart whole yet—as why shouldn’t she be?—for Jemmy Brun had never said a word to her which any man might not have said to any maiden. So wife and I got easy again.

But what should I see, one evening at twilight, while sauntering out under the shadows of my own grove of forest oaks, not far from the house, but two figures “flitting hither and thither among the distant trees.’ Like a knave, as I was, I sat on the ground and watched them; watched them nervously, glaringly, till I saw Jemmy Brun give Minnie a kiss on her lips, and looked lovingly after her as she slipped away.

I was reclining upon the sward by her path. Determined to meet and confront them, I sat and watched her coming.

Certainly Minnie’s face never wore that expression before. It was not gleeful, but it was radiant, and her eyes which were on the ground, and hence only visible as she came very near me, had a light and depth which I never saw before. She passed me: so utterly was the child absorbed in her own emotions.

‘Minnie!’ I said, in a tone which startled myself scarcely less than my child.

‘Oh!’ and she sprang from the path as though the sound had been a rattle among the grass.

I raised myself slowly—I am very slow when very angry, and standing stiffly before her glowered down into her eyes—Minnie’s beautiful, living eyes—with a sternness which had never failed to terrify. But the child, though she trembled like an aspen at first, brought her father’ s angry face with great composure.

I shall not repeat the words that followed; they never must be written; and would to God they had never been spoken!

Minnie had given him her heart, and would give her hand. How could she help it? Even her father’s anger would not prevent her fulfilling her word; for was not Jemmy Brun worthy, and was not her father’ s anger unreasonable and unjust? All this she said to me with the deep calmness of a perfect heroine, while I stood there almost as much astonished as angry.

“Wife, it’s all up with Minnie,” said I, striding into the sitting room, and breaking in upon a most delightful afternoon reverie, only relieved by the solemn ticking of the clock and the busy click of the knitting needles.

“Lord! what’s the matter?” and the ball of yarn rolled across the floor, while a flower pot on the window fell, spilling and crashing on the bricks outside, “there goes the flower pot—tell me quick—you look as pale as a sheet,”

‘Minnie has promised to marry that scapegrace in spite of us; she says she will to me, in the face of my absolute commands.’ Thereupon I walked the floor, wife staring at me the while. ‘I’ll never forgive her— never!’

‘Husband, stop and think. He—’

‘I won’t stop and think. I say I’ll never forgive her; and I won’t. Call her in.’

Wife left the room in search of Minnie. At length they came; both tearful. We sat down together, a constrained group; Minnie very tearful, but very sweet and beautiful. The interview was short, and these were the closing words:

‘Father, I have always been a dutiful child—you will do me that justice. But I love this man. You grant that his character is unimpeachable, but you forbid our marriage because you have a prejudice against him. I love and honor you, father . You cannot doubt that; but in this case I must follow the dictates of my own heart.’

‘Do so, if you will; but remember, your father will never forgive you.’

Thus ended the interview, wife sobbing distressfully, Minnie weeping quietly, and I sitting grim and angry.

Minnie kept her word and became the wife of Jemmy Brun.

I did not forbid them the house, as most angry fathers are said to do, but I told Minnie again that she had lost my love and care. Then I was so foolish as to see Jemmy Brun; and in a very silly speech inform him that since he was taking my daughter from her father without his consent, he need expect no gifts or favors now or henceforth. She would not be allowed to share in the family inheritance, nor should I render the least assistance if they ‘should come to want.’ I shall never forget the queer look the young man gave—a glance in which pride seemed almost vainly struggling with a cluster of mirth sparkles.

‘Very well, sir, we will try not to “come to want.” That was all he said; but the cool, self-possession of his manner made me feel as though I had undertaken to drive a nail and had pounded my fingers.

I had always been demonstrative toward my children—the elder as well as the younger Minnie had never lost her right to her father’s knee, nor did she ever meet me in the morning or part from me at night without a kiss. This was denied her now. Poor child! It was the sorest trial of all. Once or twice she clung tearfully to me in my sternness, and reaching up to clasp my neck with her white arms, tried to bend my lips to hers. No, I promised her never a kiss while I lived.

Women are strange creatures. There was my wife, who had entirely sympathized with me, as I supposed, absolutely giving aid and comfort to our recreant daughter. I verily believe that long before the wedding day came she was as thoroughly interested in the whole affair as though Minnie had been about to marry the best business man in town. Little use was it for me to tighten my purse strings and direct that the child should have no marriage outfit of wardrobes, pillowcases, counterpanes and the thousand and one et et ceteras in which mothers take such pride and pleasure.

In spite of me, but surreptitiously, Minnie was well provided for, I am sure. I remember that the shopman’s bills for some ten months thereafter seemed unusually full, both in number of items and footing of column; and I shrewdly suspect that my wife had arranged, with the tradesman to have the articles scattered along through the months. She was always a good financer.

The ceremony was performed in church, I was present, lest my absence should give too much great notoriety to the family jar. Useless. The whole town having long since been made acquainted with the state of affairs, the bride’s beauty and the bride-groom’s popularity, set many eyes on me with a sparkle of criticism in them.

‘He needn’t look so savage like,’ muttered a gruff old yeoman behind me; ‘there ain’t a likelier young fellow anywheres hereabout than Jemmy Brun; an’ though Minnie be purty as pink, it’s a good match, I say—a real even bargain—so.’

Long, long months went by after the marriage, tedious, unhappy months for me. I knew I was being soured by this self-imposed restraint on the affectional part of my nature. Minnie came to her old home sometimes. Once or twice she begged for the return of the old love, the old home kiss. No. My daughter was happy in her husband, happy in her home. But I saw very plainly that the bliss of the old home was lost to her.

Nearly two years went back into the past, shadowed in this manner, when a little human blossom was laid in its cradle. A little struggling wee thing—another Minnie. Poor me! Here was another influence to be stemmed, as boats stem another wave and another gust. But I braced myself; and when I had been forced into Minnie’s chamber, stood over the poor child with the little one on her arm, and heard the faint voice add to the sweetly beseeching look, ‘do kiss me, father !” I shook my head and went out.

One day a strange change came over the young mother, alarming the experienced, and giving to the physician that ominous air of grave mystery which strikes into the soul of the loving. I moved about, full of fear and guilty distress. The symptoms became more and more alarming—she was sinking. I was called to her bedside, as that of my first dying child. As I bent over the white face, almost translucent with meekness illuminated, by eyes all undimmed by illness, my Minnie gave me an old time glance of love, and throwing up her hands as if to clasp my neck, said faintly, but oh! so earnestly—

‘Kiss me father!’

I bent down to my daughter, my first-born, and we wept long together—the strong father and the faintly breathing child.

What do you think Minnie did? Why, she got well again, and in two months was as musical as a lark, and as gay, looking after the little Minnie like a pretty mother as she was.

However, the ice was fairly broken, and I was my old fatherly self ever after. Minnie even ventured, after a time, to make merry at my expense, over the fact that not only was Jemmy Brun the best of husbands, but of the well-known American writers.

I think I was a very great fool.

The Vincennes [IN] Gazette 15 December 1860

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil is inclined to agree with the gentleman. But how delightful it is to find a self-important Victorian paterfamilias owning himself in the wrong!  Perhaps Mrs Daffodil is too suspicious, but she suspects a certain collusion between Minnie, Mama, and the doctor. And why not?  A little innocent deception may lead to happy endings all round.  Mrs Daffodil wishes all of her readers who are doting Papas, a very happy Father’s Day.

A comical post for a previous Father’s Day may be found here, and a tragic one (Mrs Daffodil will warn her readers that the story is utterly heart-rending) here.

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.

 

Advice for Fathers–What to Do When Baby Gets a Tooth: 1889

An ivory and silver teething ring for baby. From http://www.bexfield.co.uk/01/d333.htm

An ivory and silver teething ring for baby. From http://www.bexfield.co.uk/01/d333.htm

WHAT TO DO

In Case the Baby Gets a Tooth

1. Telegraph at once to his grandfather and maternal aunt.

2. Ask the baby if he really has it, taking care not to address him in English undefiled.

3. Send word to the office that you will not be down to-day.

4. Avoid any jest which requires you to say that baby is now old enough to chews for himself.

5. Make an entry in your diary to the effect that a tooth is born unto you.

6. Do not temper your joy with your pessimistic thoughts as dentist’s bills inspire.

7. Swear off letting the little one chew your watch unless you like your hunting case to have dents in it.

8. Do not ask the child’s mother if she doesn’t think it strange that the other tooth don’t appear.

9. If you are a poor man don’t buy the youngster a silver-backed toothbrush on the strength of the first molar.

10. Do not tell an experienced father that you think it is a wisdom tooth. He will know better, and will probably go home and tell his wife what an unsophisticated cow you are.

11. Do not insist on feeding the boy on beefsteak right away.

12. Do not imagine that, that is the only tooth in the world, and eschew undue personal vanity because of the newcomer. You didn’t grow the tooth. Leave the conceit to this baby.

13. Remember that there are more teeth to come, and do not lavish too much enthusiasm on the first.

14. Make the youngster stop biting the piano legs and newspapers.

15. Never give theatre parties in honor of a first tooth.

16. Get the baby a toy to mark the occasion if you like, but do not move into a more commodious house because of it.

17. Do not waste your money on newspapers to see what they have to say about the new arrival.

18. Do not tell your friends about it more than eight times a day.

19. Do not charge admission to ladies who want to see it, or overestimate its drawing attractions by taking it on a starring tour through the suburbs. There are some things that suburban residents won’t pay to see, and one of them is the first tooth of another man’s baby.

20. If you deposit $100 in the bank in the child’s name, as a reward for his gallant feat, do not draw it out again under six months, if you want to get interest on it.

21. Do not ask your wife to let you take the tooth down to the club with you to show to the boys. You’ll have to take the baby with you if you do, and if there is one thing that is more out of place than another in a club it is a one-toothed baby.

22. Do not overtax the tooth, and see that baby does not bite off more than he can chew.

23. If the tooth is loose do not pull it out and have it set in a ring, nor must you fasten it in more firmly with stratina. Let nature take its course.

24. Do not be disappointed if the first tooth comes without gold filling in it.

By a judicious observance of the two dozen vital regulations your baby may have a tooth without subjecting the world to any undue excitement and without disturbance to the stock market.

Rocky Mountain News [Denver, CO] 13 February 1889: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil wishes all the indulgent Papas in her readership the happiest of Fathers Days.

A Father’s Anguish: 1827

Our Darling Victorian coffin plateIn honour of Father’s Day, a post in a sombre and very different vein from our recent forays into bridal phantoms and follies. It has been suggested by some historians that high childhood mortality made parents indifferent to their infant losses. While 19th century families tended to be large ones, few were untouched by the death of a child. This piece poignantly expresses a universal anguish, which even at this remove, arouses our sympathy.

 “There are a thousand impressions which we receive during our earthly pilgrimage, and which at the time are interesting, and often deep and solemn. But as soon as they have gone by, and we return to the active pursuits of life, they gradually become less and less vivid till they are wholly gone. All can look back to such events, and they seem like pleasant or troubled dreams; and all wish that they had something to recall the circumstances of the scenes, so that they could live them over in all their detail. It is for this purpose I now write these pages, that when one and another event shall have partially obliterated what now seems as if it could never be forgotten, I may recall it to my own mind and feelings, and to those of my dear wife. For her eye and mine alone I write. 

“Our dear little boy was born at sunrise, October 6th, 1827. Mrs. Todd had been remarkably well and active since our marriage, and probably his premature birth was owing to her over-exertion. At his birth, none seemed to think he could live but a short time; but with great exertions he was made to revive. He was small, but promised, humanly speaking, to do well. He soon opened his eyes, and began to notice sounds and objects of sight. For a week we had no fears concerning him, and enjoyed as much as parents could enjoy. When I went out, I hastened home to see my dear child lie in his mother’s arms, and, at the sound of my voice, open his dark-blue eyes and turn them toward me. We began to talk of a name, and in my own mind I had begun to form many little plans concerning him. 

“As we had been married not quite seven months, the enemies of religion at first made a great noise about it, and threw out a multitude of stories; but as it was well known that I had not been out of Groton for eight months previous to our marriage, and as Mrs. Todd’s character stood far above all suspicion, the stories only buzzed a while through the region, never disturbing us, and never injuring us in the least. 

“On Saturday, the little boy being a week old, we weighed him again, and found that he had lost. Here I first began to fear that he would not be spared to us. Still, he seemed well, and his nurse appeared to have no fears concerning him. 

“In the afternoon of the same day he was evidently sick, and we began to be alarmed. Every thing was done for him which could be. That night he rested pretty well. 

“Sabbath morning he was evidently very sick—appeared to have something like fits—and during breakfast he turned so black as greatly to alarm his mother; but from this he soon recovered. I was obliged to leave at half-past ten o’clock, to go into the pulpit. I left the child in his nurse’s arms, and tears in the eyes of his mother. I endeavored to conceal my fears and feelings, and went into the pulpit with a heavy heart. As soon as possible I was at home, and found the child worse, and his mother greatly distressed. It was then evident that he could not live. When I really came to the conclusion that he must die—our own sweet boy, our first-born, must die—it was almost insupportable. As we then came to the conclusion that he must leave us, we determined to give him formally to our covenant-God in baptism. I immediately wrote a note to our friend, Mr. Chaplin, requesting him to bring his venerable father down to baptize our dying child. Mrs. Todd’s dressing-table was placed before her bed, the baptismal font was placed on it, and the family stood around the room. The child was in the arms of the nurse. The venerable old man, Doctor Chaplin, prayed with deep feeling and great appropriateness. I was kneeling by the side of the bed and holding my dear Mary’s hand, while we both wept, and endeavored to give our child to God. The prayer ended, I took the dear babe in my arms and presented him to Doctor Chaplin. The old man was eighty-four years old, upward of six feet high, silver locks, and the most venerable person I ever saw. Our child was eight days old, fair, well-proportioned, and seventeen inches in length. Striking contrast, indeed! He was solemnly baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by the name of John William— the former name being his father’s, and the latter that of his friend. The bell rang for meeting while the ordinance was administering, and I was obliged to go again into the pulpit, expecting to find my child a corpse on my return. I walked alone to meeting, with my eyes flowing. It was an agony which I can remember, but can not describe. On entering the pulpit, I felt somewhat composed: attempted to read that beautiful hymn beginning,

“’It is the Lord, enthroned in light/Whose claims are all divine/Who has an undisputed right/ To govern me and mine.’

“Immediately a thousand inexpressible feelings rushed through my heart. I choked, hesitated, faltered, wept, and sat down after reading one stanza. The audience felt for me, and very many wept. I preached as well as I could, hardly knowing what I was about, and again hastened home, and again found our dear child alive.

“It was now toward night, and he continued to have spasms, in which he would turn black, groan, and seem to be in great pain. I sent immediately for a physician, who put him in warm water, and he revived; but it was only for a time. During the whole afternoon the nurse held him in her lap without moving. In the evening, hoping it would endanger Mrs. Todd less, I had him removed into my study. He was carried out, and it was the last time his weeping mother ever saw him alive. I was in and out of the study during the evening, but was for the most part with my wife. At ten o’clock he had an awful spasm. I went in, and was told he was no more. I gazed at him: his beautiful little features were all composed and set, and it seemed as if Death had indeed now set his seal. All hope was cut off, all doubt removed. I returned to my dear Mary, and was obliged to tell her our first-born was no more. She burst into grief the most passionate, and it seemed as if her very frame would  be crushed under the burden. We spake but little: it was, that God ruled; that our dear boy had gone to his bosom; that we trusted he would be among the angels, himself an angel; and that we should meet him again beyond the shores of mortality. I then knelt by the bed of Mrs. Todd, and we prayed, our right hands joined, and we committed and gave ourselves away to God.

“At eleven o’clock I left Mrs. Todd and went into the study; and here was the most severe trial I was called to undergo. I found the child was not dead: he had revived, and was now in great agony; it was the agony of death. He was in the arms of Miss Chaplin, his eyes open, his arms thrown out, his little fists clenched, and every muscle brought into intense action. They dared do nothing to relieve the little sufferer. I immediately gave him paregoric, and anointed his chest with warm olive-oil. His pains were less intense after that. As he lay with his eyes open, I spoke to him, called him ‘ John;’ he turned his head and bright eyes toward me with an expressiveness that I shall never forget. I do not pretend he knew me or my voice; but it was such a look as a dying child might wish to leave with his father, if he could choose. I sat without turning my eyes from him for an hour, and then returned to inform his mother that he was still living. I did not see him again alive; for he ceased to breathe soon after the Sabbath was over. I never saw such suffering before; and it seemed as if God had indeed cursed our race, and had most awfully written his displeasure with sinners on the features of our dying boy. Mysterious system! that such a child should suffer so intensely! But ‘clouds and darkness are round about Him,’ which we trust will one day all be rolled away.

“Early on Monday morning I opened my study door. The room was solitary, the windows open, and the cold winds of a chilly morning were sighing through the shutters. The room was in perfect order. In a corner, near my book-case, were two chairs, and a white cloth between them. I went slowly and lifted the cloth, and there lay my sweet boy, pale as the cloth which covered him; the beautiful white robe of the grave was upon him; his little hands were folded on his bosom; he was dressed for the coffin. Never did I see a countenance so beautiful. Every part was well-proportioned and perfect. His dark-brown hair was parted on his forehead under his cap. It seemed as if death never could gather a fairer flower. I stood over him for a long time, and, if possible, loved my boy more in death than in life.

“For fear of injuring Mrs. Todd, we had rather a private funeral, that afternoon, at half-past three o’clock. There may have been fifty present, all of whom seemed to feel for us. The good old man was our pastor. He talked well to us: they sung a hymn, and he made the prayer. The little creature was put into a mahogany coffin, with a plate on the top with the following inscription: ‘John W.Todd, who died October 15, 1827, aged nine days.’ Without any parade or bell, he was carried in a chaise, and I rode alone in my chaise, and saw him softly laid in Doctor Chaplin’s tomb, in the very spot where the good man himself expects to lie. When that event takes place, I intend to have him placed beside the old man’s head, or on his breast, that in the morning of the Resurrection they may rise together. It seemed to be his wish to have him entombed there, and it was gratifying to us, for it seems as if even the grave would be sanctified by his remains.”

Years afterward he wrote:

“I shall perish sooner than forget the feelings which I had clinging around our dear first-born. I know that we did not deserve him, and that it was all right; but my aching heart too frequently goes back to that dear lost one, and the gems of all the earth could not compensate for the loss of that one. Is he now alive? Shall we ever know him? Will that beautiful form ever come up again from the tomb? Oh, the agony of that moment when the little coffin-lid was actually closed! May God in mercy spare me from ever witnessing another such scene!”

John Todd: the story of his life told mainly by himself, edited by John Todd [son], 1876

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The Rev. John Todd, minister and author, was born in Rutland, Vermont, 9 October, 1800 and died in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 24 August, 1873. His mother, whose mental state was tenuous at best, became a hopeless lunatic after Todd’s father was badly injured in a carriage accident just before his birth. The accident prevented his father from practicing his profession of doctor and the family slid into poverty. After his father’s early death, the family was dispersed. Todd was sent to live with his Aunt. Somehow he acquired an education and was graduated from Yale in 1822. He spent the following year in teaching, then entered Andover theological seminary, and in 1827 was ordained a minister of the Congregational church in Groton. His autobiography was edited by his son, also named John Todd, and is full of affecting incidents and charming anecdotes. His unsettled youth made him a kindly and indulgent father.

This is an excerpt from The Victorian Book of the Dead by Chris Woodyard, which is also available for Kindle.

You will find more stories of fathers, kindly, heartless, and ghostly at Saturday Snippets.

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.

 

Saturday Snippets: 15 June 2013: A voice from the grave, indulgent papas, the Vendor of Paternity, fathers’ ghosts

fatherson

Mrs Daffodil has scoured the papers for items for Father’s Day week-end, finding tales of fathers good, bad, and ghostly.

A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE

How a Young Woman Heard Her Father’s Speech in a Phonograph

A pathetic story is that told in connection with the phonograph. A judge in a southern state came to Cincinnati not long ago, says a writer in the Commercial. He had never heard the phonograph. When he visited an office he spoke into the funnel and was amazed and amused to hear his own voice repeated afterward through the tubes of the machine.

Two days after he returned home he died suddenly. His daughter came to Cincinnati on business, and while here a friend took her to hear a phonograph. It was a curious coincidence that she should have been escorted to the very office her father had visited but a short time before. The young woman, who was in deep mourning, was very much entertained by some of the musical selections the phonograph repeated.

The operator afterward picked up a cylinder from a pile, placed it in the phonograph and said: “listen to this.” The young woman placed the tubes again to her ear, the bar was pulled out, and the cylinder began to revolve. Before a dozen words had been repeated the woman in black swooned. Not until she recovered was the cause of her fainting known.

The voice that had come to her ears from the phonograph was that of her dead father. It was as a voice from the grave. She afterward purchased a phonograph and the cylinder containing her father’s speech was given to her. It is carefully cherished in her southern home. Chicago Herald (Chicago, IL) 25 February 1891: p. 6 

IDENTITY ASCERTAINED.— The identity of the dead soldier who was found on the bloody field of Gettysburg, with the picture of his three pretty little children tightly clasped in his hands, has been ascertained within a day or two. The wide publicity given to the touching circumstances through the medium of the press produced the desired result. The name of the deceased was Hummiston, and his widow and three children reside at Portville, Cattaraugus County, New York. Large numbers of photographic copies of the picture upon which the dying eyes of the warrior-father closed have been sold, and the profits realized from their sale will be appropriated to the benefit of the children. It is hoped that a sufficient sum may be realized in this way, and by future sales, to aid materially in the education of the little ones who were made orphans at Gettysburg. Godey’s Lady’s Book [Philadelphia, PA] March 1864 

An Unnatural Father.

“My dear,” she said, as he finally laid down his paper, “how did your last deal in wheat come out?”

“Lost about $20,000,” he growled.

“Why you said you were sure of making $50,000.”

“So I was, but I didn’t.”

“That’s a downright shame. You know that Nellie is to marry the Count Italiani, and that he wants $50,000 for his title.”

“Can’t help that.”

“Well, it’s awful mean. Nellie is waiting for her count, and the count is waiting for his money, and here you drop $20,000 as if your daughter’s happiness was the last thing to be thought of. I don’t think you have a father’s heart in you.”

Evening News [San Jose, CA] 12 January 1886: p. 4

For a curious profession, and one which is little known, commend us to the Parisian Vendor of Paternity. He appears to be an individual who takes upon himself the risk of severe punishment if detected in the carrying out of his business, which is to stand in the place of a father to young men who wish to marry and cannot get the sanction of their parents. The Vendor of Paternity here steps in and goes through all the formalities at the Mayor’s office. Marion [OH] Daily Star 13 May 1901 

In one of our sleeping-cars in American there was an old bachelor who was annoyed by the continued crying of a child and the ineffectual attempts of the father to quiet it. Pulling aside the curtain and putting out his head, he said: “Where is the mother of that child? Why doesn’t she stop that nuisance?” The father said very quietly: “The mother is in the baggage-car in her coffin; I am traveling home with the baby. This is the second night I have been with the child, and the little creature is worrying for its mother. I am sorry if its plaintive cries disturb any one in this car.” Wait a minute,” said the old bachelor. The old man got up and dressed himself, and compelled the father to lie down and sleep, while he took the babe himself. The old bachelor stilling the cry of that babe all night was a hero. And the man who for the sake of others, gives up a lawful gratification in his own house in the social circle, is as great a hero as though he stood upon the battlefield. J.B. Gough. Elkhart [IN] Weekly Review 22 January 1880: p. 6

Equal to the Occasion.

She is a cute little Detroit girl of 7, and the proprietor of the store at which she called is a great friend of the family, says The Free Press.

“How much for one of these picture books?” she inquired of him.

“Just two kisses,” for he wanted to make her a present.

“I’ll take six,” she said in a cool, businesslike way as she tucked them under her arm and started for the door. “Papa will call and settle.”

The proprietor would like to have discharged have a dozen clerks that appreciated the scene, but it was the busy season. Sandusky [OH] Star 22 February 1899: p. 2

 FATHER’S GHOST WHISPERED

New York, July 13. Mrs. Ida Shaper of Brooklyn told a magistrate her father’s ghost had appeared and whispered that Mrs. Clara Steiner had stolen her diamond ring. Mrs. Steiner was held. Trenton [NJ] Evening Times 12 July 1913: p. 3 

What Van Left Off

Van is 4 years old and very proud of the fact that he can dress himself in the morning, all but the buttons “that run up and down ahind.”

Van isn’t enough of an acrobat yet to make his small fingers thus do duty between his shoulder blades. So he backs up to papa and gets a bit of help.

  One morning Van was in a great hurry to get on to some important work he had on hand—the marshaling of an army or something of the sort. So he hurried to get into his clothes, and of course they bothered him, because he was in a hurry and didn’t take as much pains as usual. Things would get upside down, “hind side ‘fore,” while the way the arms and legs of these same things got mixed was dreadful to contemplate. So I am afraid it was not a very pleasant face that came to papa for the finishing touches.

“There, everything is on now,” shouted Van.

“Why, no, Van,” said papa soberly. “You haven’t put everything on yet.”

Van carefully inspected all his clothes, from the tips of his small toes up to the broad collar about his neck. He could find nothing wanting.

  ‘You haven’t put your smile on yet,” said papa, with the tiny wrinkles beginning to creep about his own eyes. “Put it on, Van, and I’ll button it up for you.”

  And if you will believe me Van began to put it on then and there. After that he almost always remembered that he couldn’t really call himself dressed for the day until he had put a sunny face atop the white collar and the necktie. Sandusky [OH] Star February 22, 1899 p. 2 

A Hungarian boy, believing his father’s ghost was stoning the home at night, dug up and burned the corpse. Denver [CO] Post 7 November 1902: p. 12 

BOY SEES FATHER’S GHOST; TAKES POISON

Muncie, April 5. Terrorized, as he said, by the nightly visits of his father’s ghost to his bedside, the father having committed suicide three years ago, Edward Wilson, 11, drank a quantity of laudanum, and was found apparently dying, but his life may be saved. He fought those who tried to save him. The boy complained that his father’s spirit has been coming to his bedside and laying its icy hand upon his brow. Cincinnati [OH] Post 5 April 1909: p. 2 

The Apparition in the Elevator

Some years ago a young man came to Chicago from Germany. His father had cut him off from his annuity. He lived in the same house where I lived. He finally obtained a place in one of the big grain elevators here. I do not know what the place was except that he had something to do on the top floor, away up under the roof.  Several men were employed with him in the same place. One day while he was dusting he suddenly stopped and asked his assistants who that nicely dressed old man was that was standing back there by the shaft. Strangers are never allowed in these big elevators, and to see one there well dressed was enough to excite comment. His companions looked in the direction indicated and said they saw no one. He insisted, and when they laughed at him he went to the place where he saw the figure standing. On his approach it vanished.

The young man fainted. He recovered and then asked his companions to make a note of the occurrence, the date and the time of day. He said the figure he saw was that of his father. In twelve days he received a letter from the old country telling him of his father’s death. The date and time agreed with the date and time of the occurrence I have described. The letter informed him that his father had forgiven him and remembered him in his will. He returned to the fatherland, got his portion of the estate and is living there now. You may say what you please, but I have never felt like scoffing from the time I heard this story. The spirit of that boy’s father appeared to him on the top floor of that elevator. Eugene Field in Chicago News. Idaho Statesman [Boise, ID] 25 December 1891: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: For a story of the mysterious image of a father and his favourite child who appeared in the window-glass of a house of mourning, please visit the Haunted Ohio blog for today. Mrs Daffodil wishes for her readers the fondest and most indulgent of Papas and extends the compliments of the day to all such gentlemen.

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.