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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Private Memorandum concerning his Little Daughter
By Charles Darwin (1809–1882)
 
From ‘Life and Letters’

OUR poor child Annie was born in Gower Street on March 2d, 1841, and expired at Malvern at midday on the 23d of April, 1851.  1
  I write these few pages, as I think in after years, if we live, the impressions now put down will recall more vividly her chief characteristics. From whatever point I look back at her, the main feature in her disposition which at once rises before me is her buoyant joyousness, tempered by two other characteristics; namely, her sensitiveness, which might easily have been overlooked by a stranger, and her strong affection. Her joyousness and animal spirits radiated from her whole countenance, and rendered every movement elastic and full of life and vigor. It was delightful and cheerful to behold her. Her dear face now rises before me, as she used sometimes to come running down-stairs with a stolen pinch of snuff for me, her whole form radiant with the pleasure of giving pleasure. Even when playing with her cousins, when her joyousness almost passed into boisterousness, a single glance of my eye, not of displeasure (for I thank God I hardly ever cast one on her), but of want of sympathy, would for some minutes alter her whole countenance.  2
  The other point in her character, which made her joyousness and spirits so delightful, was her strong affection, which was of a most clinging, fondling nature. When quite a baby this showed itself in never being easy without touching her mother when in bed with her; and quite lately she would, when poorly, fondle for any length of time one of her mother’s arms. When very unwell, her mother lying down beside her seemed to soothe her in a manner quite different from what it would have done to any of our other children. So again she would at almost any time spend half an hour in arranging my hair, “making it,” as she called it, “beautiful,” or in smoothing, the poor dear darling! my collar or cuffs—in short, in fondling me.  3
  Besides her joyousness thus tempered, she was in her manners remarkably cordial, frank, open, straightforward, natural, and without any shade of reserve. Her whole mind was pure and transparent. One felt one knew her thoroughly and could trust her. I always thought that come what might, we should have had in our old age at least one loving soul which nothing could have changed. All her movements were vigorous, active, and usually graceful. When going round the Sand-walk with me, although I walked fast, yet she often used to go before, pirouetting in the most elegant way, her dear face bright all the time with the sweetest smiles. Occasionally she had a pretty coquettish manner towards me, the memory of which is charming. She often used exaggerated language, and when I quizzed her by exaggerating what she had said, how clearly can I now see the little toss of the head, and exclamation of “Oh, papa, what a shame of you!” In the last short illness, her conduct in simple truth was angelic. She never once complained; never became fretful; was ever considerate of others, and was thankful in the most gentle, pathetic manner for everything done for her. When so exhausted that she could hardly speak, she praised everything that was given her, and said some tea “was beautifully good.” When I gave her some water she said, “I quite thank you;” and these I believe were the last precious words ever addressed by her dear lips to me.  4
  We have lost the joy of the household and the solace of our old age. She must have known how we loved her. Oh that she could now know how deeply, how tenderly, we do still and shall ever love her dear joyous face! Blessings on her!
  April 30th, 1851.
  5
 
 
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