Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh


For the first time in his life Theobald felt that he had done something right, and could look forward to meeting his father without alarm. The old gentleman, indeed, had written him a most cordial letter, announcing his intention of standing godfather to the boy--nay, I may as well give it in full, as it shows the writer at his best. It runs:

"Dear Theobald,--Your letter gave me very sincere pleasure, the more so because I had made up my mind for the worst; pray accept my most hearty congratulations for my daughter-in-law and for yourself.

"I have long preserved a phial of water from the Jordan for the christening of my first grandson, should it please God to grant me one. It was given me by my old friend Dr Jones. You will agree with me that though the efficacy of the sacrament does not depend upon the source of the baptismal waters, yet, ceteris paribus, there is a sentiment attaching to the waters of the Jordan which should not be despised. Small matters like this sometimes influence a child's whole future career.

"I shall bring my own cook, and have told him to get everything ready for the christening dinner. Ask as many of your best neighbours as your table will hold. By the way, I have told Lesueur NOT TO GET A LOBSTER--you had better drive over yourself and get one from Saltness (for Battersby was only fourteen or fifteen miles from the sea coast); they are better there, at least I think so, than anywhere else in England.

"I have put your boy down for something in the event of his attaining the age of twenty-one years. If your brother John continues to have nothing but girls I may do more later on, but I have many claims upon me, and am not as well off as you may imagine.--Your affectionate father,


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