Arthur's first letter home from Marlborough school, aged 10.
[No original avilable]
LETTERS FROM ARTHUR Ll.D., MARLBOROUGH, 1874-1881
Arthur Ll.D. was sent to Marlborough at the beginning of 1874, at what, nowadays at any rate, seems the very early age of just under 11. Charley had preceded him there two or three years earlier and accompanied him to the school.
Here is Arthur’s first letter home to his mother at 18 Blandford Square.
Marlborough, Saturday evening.
(January or early February 1874)
We got here alright at about ¼ to 10, when I reported myself to Richardson, and had supper in Hall.
I am in C dormitory, the same as Charles was, and have Eyres, a youth of about 16, for my prefect, not Blackett-Ord. Hunter, a great big fellow, and not very nice, is captain of my dormitory. There are 11 beds in the dormitory, one of which is now vacant, just enough for cricket, and I can’t possibly be excluded from the dormitory XI.
I was examined this morning by James, a very nice master, placed in the Middle Fourth A, Voules’ form, who (Voules) was asked to play (cricket) for the Gentleman -v- the Players of England, but refused, as he thought himself not good enough. I like Voules very much. I am going to do select Cicero and Ovid for form work, which I don’t think will be difficult, from what I’ve seen of them. You might think the Cicero would be, but it’s select passages of it, remember. In French I am going to do L’enfant des bois, which I don’t think is difficult.
The subscriptions are coming round now. I have just paid 6d for rifle corps, and here comes 6d for Upper School Papers. At the end of this letter I’ll give you a list of all the subscriptions.
I have just had a mighty spill of ink over desks, form, paper, floor, hands, and a few spots on my bags.
All the fellows say how like Charley I am, and some guess my name from that. Today I think almost every boy in the school said to me “What’s your name? What form are you in? How old are you?” and at last it became quite worrying to answer all their questions. I always have to say Davieeeeeees.
My voice was tried for the choir this afternoon, and I don’t think I got in. Bambridge said “That’ll do. Now you can go.” He told Morris’s brother (who did come to Marlbro’) to come to practice this evening, and he’s there now.
It was awfully light last night coming through the town, ever so much lighter than in London at 6, but it’s very dark now. I’ve bought a cap ½ a cr[own], and I shall get my tin back when I give the tailor an order.
Many thanks for your letter: I got it at breakfast time. I think the jams etc. got here all safe, but I have only opened the potted meat (home-made), the Alberts, and last, not least, the cake, which was awfully good. I like Richardson very much, and A house too. I don’t think C’s cold’s worse.
I know I am not youngest in the school, as when I rep[orte]d myself to Richardson there was another boy in his room, and he asked us both when we’d be 11, and he said he’d be in March.
This is my list of subs.
Rifle Corps 6d
Upper Sch. Pa. 6d
All the rest 4.4
Give my love to everybody
I am your loving son
A .Ll. Davies.
N.B. please address my letters A.Ll. Davies not Arthur Ll. Davies.
I can’t see how the heart of any mother could desire a more satisfactory letter than this, from an (almost) 11-year-old boy writing on his first two days at a Public School. It is happy, high-spirited, full of information, without a hint of any feeling of awe at the new surroundings. It is long; and no longer than many of its successors – he wrote home two or sometimes three times a week. It seems to me that the ease of expression is remarkable in so young a boy: certainly none of his sons wrote comparable letters at so early an age. The handwriting is good without being exceptionally so. There are no spelling mistakes. He uses the long ess when the double ess occurs at the end of a word.
It is quite evident that as a boy Arthur was, in the modern psycho-analyst’s slang, very much of an extrovert: and also that he and his brothers and sister had been mighty well brought up in the pre-Marlborough stage.
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