A Harsh Swimming Lesson

“Chopping Logs Outside a Snow Covered Log Cabin” by Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-72)

Quick Quotes 30.  The following quote is taken from Notes of a Nomad, by Canadian author Lady Harriet Julia Jephson, published just over a hundred years ago in 1918.  For the most part it is a journal of her travels, but it starts in autobiographical fashion, and here we find some interesting snippets of social history, particularly her childhood in 19th Century Canada.

In his methods of bringing up our brothers to be fearless and self-reliant, my father was, I must confess, Spartan in his discipline. He taught us all to ride by putting us on bare-backed ponies and picking us up when we fell off. If we cried we were told about the Spartan boy and the fox. How we hated that boy! My brothers learnt to swim by being taken out into deep water and thrown out of the boat. When they came up gasping to the surface and clung to the gunwale, they were ordered to “play the man” and strike out for themselves. Between the “devil and the deep sea” they soon learnt to swim. My father inherited no caution from his Scotch ancestry, but considerable dare-devilry from his Irish mother. Once I remember he was driving full speed downhill and my mother remonstrated on such recklessness. “All right, darling,” said he, “the fence will bring us up at the bottom!” We children were adjured to watch papa’s hat, and when that was seen inclining towards the ground we had permission to cry out, not before. It was a fine though painful training, and resulted in our becoming absolutely fearless.

“The Spartan Boy and the Fox” refers to a story by Plutarch.  It’s rather a violent story to inspire children with!

“Chopping Logs Outside a Snow Covered Log Cabin” by Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-72)


“Quick Quotes” are some bonus content for the blog. Each time I find an interesting or amusing little quote that does not really need any further explanation or background information, it will appear on Windows into History under this heading. You can keep updated each time I post a new entry by clicking on the follow button on the right of the screen. I welcome any comments or suggestions, and will consider guest posts.

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on junkyard.blog. Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com. Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in 20th Century, Books, History, Memoirs, Nature, People, Quick Quotes, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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