Just a few weeks ago, June and Howard picked us up at the train station in Greenwich and we went looking for a house.
Two houses, actually. One belonged to Charles. The other belonged to Winston. We had a splendid day in the Kent countryside. Best of all, if hardly rained at all.
And it got me thinking.
Winston was born in 1874 and Charles died in 1882. They might have met when Winston was a rambunctious six year old and Charles a famous but kind elderly gentleman. I would like to think that such a meeting occurred, but I cannot confirm it.
They might have talked about hobbies. Charles liked to collect beetles. He might have shown the young Winston his beetle collection.
Winston was preoccupied with soldiers. I am not sure he appreciated Charles’ beetle collection when he was a child. But later on in life Winston did develop a passion for raising butterflies. So who knows?
The young Winston might have told Charles that he was a bad pupil and had been thrown out of school. Charles might have told Winston that he had been a very average lad himself. He recalled his father telling him “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.”
Perhaps Charles showed Winston a picture of his Dad, Dr. Robert Darwin. That would have been ironic. When Winston grew up, he looked pretty much the same.
Perhaps Charles told the young Winston how he had sailed for years on a ship called the “Beagle” in order to establish his reputation and become a ‘somebody’. He studied the life and death of plants and animals, and how they compete with one another for resources. He studied their survival and how they change over millions of years. He wrote and wrote. He was passionate about his career.
Winston would later travel on many ships to observe and fight in wars. He studied the life and death of humans and how they compete with one another and how cruel they can be. He barely survived himself. Winston also wrote and wrote. He wrote many books and articles. Just like Charles.
Did Charles tell the young Winston that he didn’t become famous overnight? It took him many years. He published his most famous book when he was 50 years old!
Was Winston paying attention? After all, he himself became Prime Minister of England in 1940, when was 65 years old!!
During their meeting did the elderly Charles notice Winston’s lisp (which he would work so hard to overcome)? Did he notice the powers of observation that they both shared? Did he know that Winston was being raised by a nanny, rather than by his parents? Did he have an incling that the young problematic child was destined for greatness, just as he had been?
Or was Charles preoccupied with his worms, beetles, bees and flowers?
I am quite sure, though, that at the end of their encounter, Winston helped himself to delicious jam and bread, just as we did. Kids will be kids.
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