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My father's midday walk generally began by a call at the greenhouse, where he looked at any germinating seeds or experimental plants which required a casual examination, but he hardly ever did any serious observing at this time. Then he went on for his constitutional-either round the “Sandwalk," or outside his own grounds in the immediate neighbourhood of the house. The Sand-walk” was a narrow strip of land 14 acres in extent, with a gravel-walk round it. On one side of it was a broad old shaw with fair-sized oaks in it, which made a sheltered shady walk ; the other side was separated from a neighbouring grass field by a low quickset hedge, over which you could look at what view there was, a quiet little valley losing itself in the upland country towards the edge of the Westerham hill, with hazel coppice and larch wood, the remnants of what was once a large wood, stretching away to the Westerham road. I have heard my father say that the charm of this simple little valley helped to make him settle at Down.
The Sand-walk was planted by my father with a variety of trees, such as hazel, alder, lime, hornbeam, birch, privet, and dogwood, and with a long line of hollies all down the exposed side. In earlier times he took a certain number of turns every day, and used to count them by means of a heap of flints, one of which he kicked out on the path each time he passed. Of late years I think he did not keep to any fixed number of turns, but took as many as he felt strength for. The Sand-walk was our play-ground as children, and here we continually saw my father as he walked round. He liked to see what we were doing, and was ever ready to sympathize in any fun that was going on. It is curious to think how, with regard to the Sand-walk in connection with my father, my earliest recollections coincide with my latest ; it shows how unvarying his habits have been.
Sometimes when alone he stood still or walked stealthily to observe birds or beasts. It was on one of these occasions that some young squirrels ran up his back and legs, while their mother barked at them in an agony from the tree. He always found birds' nests even up to the last years of his life, and we, as children, considered that he had a special genius in this direction. In his quiet prowls he came across the less common birds, but I fancy he used to conceal it from me, as a little boy, because he observed the agony of mind which I endured at not having seen the siskin or goldfinch, or whatever it might have been. He used to tell us how, when he was creeping noiselessly along in the “Big-Woods," he came upon a fox asleep in the daytime, which was so much astonished that it took a good stare at him before it ran off. A Spitz dog which accompanied him showed no sign of excitement at the fox, and he used to end the story by wondering how the dog could have been so faint-hearted.
Another favourite place was "Orchis Bank," above the quiet Cudham valley, where fly- and musk-orchis grew among the junipers, and Cephalanthera and Neottia under the beech boughs; the little wood “Hangrove," just above this, he was also fond of, and here I remember his collecting grasses, when he took a fancy to make out the names of all the common kinds. He was fond of quoting the saying of one of his little boys, who, having found a grass that his father had not seen before, had it laid by his own plate during dinner, remarking, "I are an extraordinary grass-finder !"
My father much enjoyed wandering slowly in the garden with my mother or some of his children, or making one of a party, sitting out on a bench on the lawn; he generally sat, however, on the grass, and I remember him often lying under one of the big lime-trees, with his head on the green mound at its foot. In dry summer weather, when we often sat out, the big fly-wheel of the well was commonly heard spinning
und, and so the sound became associated with those pleasant days. He used to like to watch us playing at lawn-tennis, and often knocked up a stray ball for us with the curved handle of his stick.
Though he took no personal share in the management of the garden, he had great delight in the beauty of flowersfor instance, in the mass of Azaleas which generally stood in
the drawing-room. I think he sometimes fused together his admiration of the structure of a flower and of its intrinsic beauty ; for instance, in the case of the big pendulous pink and white flowers of Dielytra. In the same way he had an affection, half-artistic, half-botanical, for the little blue Lobelii. In admiring flowers, he would often laugh at the dingy high-art colours, and contrast them with the bright tints of nature. I used to like to hear him admire the beauty of a flower; it was a kind of gratitude to the flower itself, and a personal love for its delicate form and colour. I seem to remember him gently touching a flower he delighted in ; it was the same simple admiration that a child might have.
He could not help personifying natural things. This feeling came out in abuse as well as in praise-e.g. of some seedlings—"The little beggars are doing just what I don't want
He would speak in a half-provoked, half-admiring way of the ingenuity of a Mimosa leaf in screwing itself out of a basin of water in which he had tried to fix it. One might see the same spirit in his way of speaking of Sundew, earth-worms, &c.*
Within my memory, his only outdoor recreation, besides walking, was riding, which he took to on the recommendation of Dr. Bence Jones, and we had the luck to find for him the easiest and quietest cob in the world, named “Tommy." He enjoyed these rides extremely, and devised a number of short rounds which brought him home in time for lunch. Our country is good for this purpose, owing to the number of small valleys which give a variety to what in a flat country would be a dull loop of road. He was not, I think, naturally fond of horses, nor had he a high opinion of their intelligence, and Tommy was often laughed at for the alarm he showed at passing and repassing the same heap of hedge
* Cf. Leslie Stephen's Swist,' 1882, p. 200, where Swist's inspection of the manners and customs of servants are compared to my father's observations on worms, “The difference is,” says Mr. Stephen, “ that Darwin had none but kindly feelings for worms."
clippings as he went round the field. I think he used to feel surprised at himself, when he remembered how bold a rider he had been, and how utterly old age and bad health had taken away his nerve. He would say that riding prevented him thinking much more effectually than walking-that having to attend to the horse gave him occupation sufficient to prevent any really hard thinking. And the change of scene which it gave hiin was good for spirits and health.
Unluckily, Tommy one day fell heavily with him on Keston common. This, and an accident with another horse, upset his nerves, and he was advised to give up riding.
If I go beyond my own experience, and recall what I have heard him say of his love for sport, &c., I can think of a good deal, but much of it would be a repetition of what is contained in his ‘Recollections.' At school he was fond of bat-fives, and this was the only game at which he was skilful. He was fond of his gun as quite a boy, and became a good shot; he used to tell how in South America he killed twentythree snipe in twenty-four shots. In telling the story he was careful to add that he thought they were not quite so wild as English snipe.
Luncheon at Down came after his midday walk; and here I may say a word or two about his meals generally. He had a boy-like love of sweets, unluckily for himself, since he was constantly forbidden to take them. He was not particularly successful in keeping the “vows," as he called them, which he made against eating sweets, and never considered them binding unless he made them aloud.
He drank very little wine, but enjoyed, and was revived by, the little he did drink. He had a horror of drinking, and constantly warned his boys that any one might be led into drinking too much. I remember, in my incocence as a small boy, asking him if he had been ever tipsy; and he answered very gravely that he was ashamed to say he had once drunk too much at Cambridge. I was much impressed, so that I know now the place where the question was asked.
After his lunch, he read the newspaper, lying on the sofa
in the drawing-room. I think the paper was the only nonscientific matter which he read to himself. Everything else, novels, travels, history, was read aloud to him. He took so wide an interest in life, that there was much to occupy him in newspapers, though he laughed at the wordiness of the debates ; reading them, I think, only in abstract. His interest in politics was considerable, but his opinion on these matters was formed rather by the way than with any serious amount of thought.
After he had read his paper, came his time for writing letters. These, as well as the MS. of his books, were written by him as he sat in a huge horse-hair chair by the fire, his paper supported on a board resting on the arms of the chair. When he had many or long letters to write, he would dictate them from a rough copy; these rough copies were written on the backs of manuscript or of proof-sheets, and were almost illegible, sometimes even to himself. He made a rule of keeping all letters that he received; this was a habit which he learnt from his father, and which he said had been of great use to him,
He received many letters from foolish, unscrupulous people, and all of these received replies. He used to say that if he did not answer them, he had it on his conscience afterwards, and no doubt it was in great measure the courtesy with which he answered every one, which produced the universal and widespread sense of his kindness of nature, which was so evident on his death.
He was considerate to his correspondents in other and lesser things, for instance when dictating a letter to a foreigner he hardly ever failed to say to me, “You'd better try and write well, as it's to a foreigner." His letters were generally written on the assumption that they would be carelessly read; thus, when he was dictating, he was careful to tell me to make an important clause begin with an obvious paragraph “to catch his eye,” as he often said. How much he thought of the trouble he gave others by asking questions, will be well enough shown by his letters. It is difficult to say anything