Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next

460   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

But if a pair they ever were, the other's not alive,

And this one is the only one, and she is fifty-five;

The brother is a page in blouse, who won't do what he's bid,

The people call him Jacquot, but with Madame he's "stupide"We've thus disposed of brother and of blooming chatelaines; But what about the chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.

I'm ushered in, and there, I find, are fellow victims three, Prepared to eat their souper, fixed for sept heures et demie; A monsieur with a napkin tucked beneath his double chin, A mother, and a giggling girl for ever on the grin.

Then knives begin to shovel in the meat and beans, and then I feel I'm in a pension in the heart of the Ardennes.

The mother tells of glories which have quite possessed her brains, The salons of a wealthy fabricant of counterpanes; Discusses is it proper for a Vdrificateur To ask to dance the daughter of a public Inspecteur. It sounds perhaps a little insignificant, but then We're very near a chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.

Monsieur gets purple over "non!" and shouts it six times o'er; And when he feels affirmative, a dozen "si's" or more; Elisa nips her mother when I don't take haricots, Which smell so strong of onion I'm glad to see them go ; And this within a yard or two, not more than eight or ten, Of a most undoubted chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.

The morning breaks in beauty, and romantic dreams take flight, As through the open window streams the sun's fast growing light, Romantic dreams of sylvan courts, and eke of banished dukes, And pensive Jaqueses who meditate by sweet meandering brooks. I rise and seek the window, feeling sure that there and then I shall realise the chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.

The noises that the pigs are making really pass belief;

The cocks are louder still,-to shut the window's no relief;

And ah 1 for dreams of sylvan glades so sweet and fresh and pure, At every door are soaking heaps of excellent manure. But what are trifles such as these, when close within my ken There stands at last the chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.

The guide book says ninth century, but carved in stone the date Of this remaining morsel is but sixteen twenty eight; It's now a shop for carpet-slippers, sweets and boots and wool, And Madame takes a room in it when her "hotel" is full; The rest was all "fait sauter," not by Revolution men, But to build a new Hotel de Ville in the heart of the Ardennes.

The meats are very tender, and the bedrooms very good; Madame is very pleasant, and there's quite sufficient food; The coffee's sometimes perfect, and there seem to be no fleas, And it costs you very little by the day at Houflalize; But yet I'm not at all inclined to go and see again That smelly-not a chateau, in the heart of the Ardennes.

Letter of Charles Darwin to his Aunt, Violetta Galton (nee Darwin),
Francis Galton's Mother.

DOWN, BECK.ENHAM, KENT. July 12, 1871.

MY DEAR AUNT, I am very much obliged to you for your great kindness in writing to me in your own hand. My sons were no doubt deceived and the picture-seller affixed the name of a celebrated man to the picture for the sake of getting his price.

Previous Index Next