Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Diary of a Victorian Baby No.2

Another piece cataloguing the life of a new baby in humorous terms, this time from the Sporting Times of 1881:

THE MENTAL EXPANSION OF THE JUVENILE.

THE first day or two after the birth of our child is more or less indistinct in our memory. It don't seem to be very definite or fixed. Floating through our wild waste of brain there is a chaotic panorama, and there seems to be nothing but a mixture of events. We see in our mind's eye an excited young man prancing wildly through the moonlight down town. The solemn hush of midnight seems to pervade everything. The young man seems to have dressed himself in a hurry, and one suspender is hanging down by his side. He rings a door bell and a physician comes to the door.
    There is a hurried conversation and then all is still. Pretty soon two men pass up the street.

* * *
It is to-morrow! A beautiful parboiled child is nestling in a roll of snowy blanket. The father gets a magnifying-glass and looks at the features.
    The nurse tells the father that the child is the living picture of him, and the enraged parent brains the nurse with a decorated wash-bowl.
    First day.— The child opens its mouth twice, emitting a falsetto wail that makes the cold chills go all over the neighbourhood.
    Second day.—The child passed a comfortable night ; more comfortable than the parents. The father has to get up at two o'clock a.m. for a soothing potion for the child. Gets one for himself at the same time.
    Third day.—Respiration normal, pulse regular, amount of laudable howl materially increased.
    Tenth day.—The mind begins to develop, and the father notices that his child has no teeth, and will have to be fed on new bread and bran mast for some time.
    Fifteenth day. The child passed the night, pawing the air and rehearsing a voluntary in G minor.
    Twentieth day.—Signs of internal disturbance, with indications of squalls and the pale blue colic.
    Twenty-first day.—Fell out of bed without fatal results.
    Thirtieth day.—Began to notice the father, and manifested a desire to become more thoroughly acquainted.
    Fortieth day.—The dissipated flush caused by late hours and constant attention to vocal music began to disappear.
    No noticeable change for several months, except the growth of the brain and partial disappearance of gastric rebellion.
    The growth of the mental faculties seemed then to be more and more noticeable, so that at this date the child already seems to know more that its parents. The mental expansion of the juvenile is something that is simply appalling.

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