Young ladies weren’t the only ones thinking about what Mama and Papa might be cozened into purchasing for Christmas. Home on break from schools like Eton and Harrow, the nineteenth century young man would be thinking about his future, and perhaps fondly remembering his past, when the school room was all he need be captain of and the most pressing matter was lining up his toy soldiers just so. Given that, what might a nineteenth century teen put on his Christmas list:
--A chess set. Perhaps with some practice even Father will do down in defeat!
--The Iliad in Greek. Learning those old languages has to be good for something, and what better than a rousing adventure of war?
--A dashing waistcoat. A fellow has to get out sometime, and he might as well look bang up to the mark while doing so.
--A multicaped greatcoat. Because it gets terribly cold at school. Oh, does it look just like the one the stage coach driver wears? Hadn’t noticed.
--A toy train. For collection purposes, you understand. It looks well on a mantel, I’m told.
--Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Bit of a girly book, really, but everyone is quoting them. Even the most standoffish young lady is said to swoon when you read her No. 43: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
--Reliable transportation. Think how much more convenient for Mother not to have to loan out the carriage and driver or detour from her own amusements to drive you around. Really, it’s entirely for her benefit.
What am I getting for the two young men in my life? I’ll never tell. How about you?