(34)  Charles Louis George Emanuel Copinger


Charles Louis George Emanuel Copinger

Charles Louis George Emanuel Copinger the seventh child and youngest son of James George Copinger of Roscoff and Catherine Reeve Ehrhart was born on 10th September 1821 two months after the death of his father.

Growing up in France he was destined for the priesthood and attended a seminary but did not graduate. As a boy he saw Napoleon’s body being returned to France some years after his death in exile. Charles first went to New York by sailing ship and made his way to Fort Deerbolt which had just been renamed Chicago. On this visit he lived with Indian tribes for several years.

He returned to France and enlisted in the French Army for service in Algeria where he was wounded.

By 1845 he had settled in England where his first marriage was to Mary James who died in 1866 and the following is a copy of her will.

I Mary Copinger the wife of Charles Louis George Emanuel Copinger of No. 41 Amphill Square in the County of Middlesex in pursuant and exercise of this power and authority for this purpose given to me by a certain indenture of settlement executed upon my marriage and dated the twenty ninth day of March one thousand eight hundred and forty five and of every other power or authority in anywise enabling me in this behalf to make and ordain this to be my last Will and testament Where as John Pearson and Henry Ovey the trustees of the above mentioned settlement have from time to time at my request advanced to me out of the trust funds various sums of money and they or one of them have advanced to me for my own use and have also expended divers sums of money for repairing the leasehold premises named in the said settlement I therefore direct that my said trustees do within six months after my decease repay and make good to themselves and himself out of the monies now remaining in their names the several sums so advanced and expended by them or him and after such payments I direct that one hundred pounds sterling part of the residue of the said trust funds shall be paid to my son Maurice Charles Copinger to repay him the amount he sometime since lent his parents That fifty pounds sterling be paid to my son Walter Arthur by four equal quarterly payments for his maintenance that twenty five pound sterling be paid to each of my sons Herbert Edward and Thomas Bertram and applied towards finishing their education And the remainder of the said funds I direct shall be paid to my husband Charles Louis George Emanuel Copinger And in further pursuance of the power vested in me by the said settlement I give and bequeath to my said husband my cluster diamond ring to my son George Alexander James my loop diamond ring and also the several articles of plate in the care of my executor Henry Ovey and to my friend Mrs. Henry Gilburn my wearing apparal And I hereby appoint the said Henry Ovey Executor of this my Will In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this twenty first day of April one thousand eight hundred and sixty five

MARY COPINGER

Signed by the above named Mary Copinger as and for her last Will and testament in the presence of us present at the same time who at her request in her presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses

Wm. Garland No 86 Camberwell Road
Annie Bird 74 Southampton Street Camberwell

Proved at London 21st August 1866 by the oath of Henry Ovey the sole executor to whom admon. was granted limited to all such personal estate and effects as she the testator by virtue of a certain indenture of settlement bearing date the twenty ninth day of March 1845 and of all other power and authorities her enabling has a right.





He married Fanny Rayner in February 1867. They had a daughter Annette Frances on 26th Oct 1867 who subsequently married R. McAlpine McGregor and went to Canada, and a son Edward who died without issue.

He went back to America about 1877/8 where he married his third wife Mary Margaret May in 1878 in Baltimore. They had three children, May Irene, b.25.5.1879, Lucy Emily, b.20.1.1883 and Roger Bernard b. 17.3.1894. He worked for the Post Office for some time and then taught French in High Schools and later gave private lessons.

He died on 9th May 1913 after a short illness.



A Baltimorean's Recollection of the days of Napoleon. Written for The American.

I remember the year 1830. In Paris the songs of rejoicing had scarcely ceased to be heard, the illuminations of the city scarcely extinguished, and the booming of the canon silent for the victory obtained by the French by the taking of Algiers, when the French turned the guns against each other. During three days and three nights, the 27th, 28th and 29th of July, the struggle between the royal troops and the populace had been fierce and terrible, and revolution raged in all its fury. Finally Charles X, the last king of France, was driven from his throne into exile, thus ending the dynasty of the elder branch of Bourbon, and Louis Philippe or Orleans succeeded as the first king of the French. On July 30th, at the Hotel de Ville, General de Lafayette had taken him by the hand and presented him to the people, proclaimed him lieutenant general of the kingdom, and then commenced their triumphant procession through Paris, amidst the acclamations of the multitude, along the boulevards, over the barricades, onward to the Place Venome, shaking hands on the right and on the left, General de Lafayette all the time at his side, mounted on a white steed. I joined the crowd to shake hands with the brave old general. He has so often been portrayed that anything I could say would seem superfluous. Those habits of exquisite politeness and affability which never left him, under any circumstances, are known to every one. Probably they had been acquired in his early days at the court of Louis XVI. At the time of the revolution of 1830 he was in his 73rd year. He died on the 20th May 1834 in his 77th year.

Early on the 2nd of December, 1840, all the inhabitants of Cherbourg, in Normandy, were aroused by the discharge of heavy artillery from the forts of the "Roule" and of "Quergheville" and from the vessels of war in the harbour. Some thought of another revolution; others that it was on account of the anniversary of the battle of Austerlitz, but it was soon ascertained to be the salvos to announce the arrival of the French frigate "La Belle Toule", commanded by the Prince de Joinville, bringing from the Island of St. Helena the remains of the great Napoleon. He had said: "Je veux que mes cendres reposent sur les bords de le Seine, au milieu de ce seuple Francais que j'ai tant aime". (I desire that my ashes may repose beside the Seine in the midst of that French people I have so much loved) His desire was being fulfilled.

I cannot give as reminiscences the events of 1815, but relate them as I received them orally from eye witnesses of such events with whom I have been personally acquainted.

Admiral Sir George Cockburn, who conveyed the captive to his destination, was the same Sir George Cockburn who in 1814 laid waste the barks of the Potomac, and was guilty of the vandal act of burning Washington to the ground, for, in an official letter, Major General Ross says to Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, who suggested the attack upon Washington and who accompanied the army: "I confess the greatest obligations for his cordial co-operation and advice". After wrapping the Capitol in its winding sheet of fire on 6th of September, the whole fleet, between forty and fifty vessels, stood up the Chesapeake, sailed by Annapolis, reached the Patapsca, and early in the morning of the 12th landed the troops at North Point, whilst several vessels of light draught attempted to silence Fort McHenry.

When I became acquainted with Sir George Cockburn he was one of the Commissioners of the English Admiralty, in London. He was then in his 72nd year. He died in 1853, aged 81. When I knew him he was still a very active man. He had a way of walking up and down a room whilst engaged in conversation, often with his hands behind, in bis coat pockets, as if still fancying himself on his quarterdeck. He had a rough way, and a sharp piercing voice.

Napoleon's surrender.

On July 15th 1815 there were in the Basques Roads, (La Rade des Basques) blockading Rochefort and La Rochelle, the frigate Bellerophon, Captain Sir Frederick Maitland; the sloops of war Myrmidon, Captain Robert Gambler, and the Slany, Captain Sartorious. On the morning of the 15th Captain Gambler had come on board the Bellerophon to confer with his senior officer. When Napoleon stepped on the quarter deck he was the first officer to whom he spoke, saying, "Monsieur, je suis a votre disposition". At that moment Captain Maitland came forward, and Napoleon, turning to him, said, " I am come to throw myself on the protection of your Princes and laws". Captain Maitland, having introduced him to his officers, conducted the Emperor to his cabin. Napoleon wanted one month to complete his 46th years for he was born on August 15th 1769. He was a man well built, with small hands and feet, good mouth, eyes of light gray, a pleasant smile, a countenance terrible dark and gloomy when under the influence of anger. I was told that he appeared very lethargic when on board the Bellerophon, for, though he went to bed between eight and nine in the evening, he frequently fell asleep on a chair or on a sofa in the cabin during the course of the day. He ate much at his meals but was very abstemious in his drink, taking one or two glasses of light claret. He spoke with great rapidity, which made it difficult at times to follow him. The Emperor was accompanied on board the Bellerophon by Generals Bertrand, Savery, Lallemand and Menthon his aide de camp, and military secretary. General Baron Gourgand had been sent to England in the Slany, with a letter to the Prince regent which was never delivered, Count de La Cases and his son, the Countesses of Bertrand, Mentholon, and a suite of nine officers of inferior rank and 39 domestics. The principal personages were received on board the Bellerophon, and the others were sent o board the sloop of war Myrmidon. On the 17th the Bellerophon and the Myrmidon weighed anchor and on the 24th in the morning entered the roadstead of Torbay On the 26th the vessels received orders to leave Torbay for Plymouth. Arriving there, armed boats surrounded the ships, and two English frigates cast anchor, one on either side of the Bellerophon. On August 4th the Captain received fresh orders to put to sea and was joined on the 5th by the Northumberland, Admiral Sir George Cockburn, who was to convey the Emperor to the Island of St. Helena. On the 7th August Napoleon made it known that he was ready. About eleven o'clock the long boat took him on board the Northumberland. His step was firm and measure; he was calm and full of dignity. He bowed to all and graciously took leave of all. August the 8th the Bellerophon sailed for Plymouth, the Northumberland got under way for St. Helena which was not reached until 8th October, he had ceased to be a free man; he had become a prisoner of his most implacable enemies.

The Removal Of The Body

During the time La Belle Toule remains at Cherbourg, moored in the same dock and at the same spot where the banished King Charles X and other members of the royal family had embarked in 1830 had many opportunities of conversing with those who had been companions in exile of the great Emperor, actors and leaders in those eventful times which preceded the downfall of the first empire, who had now returned having fulfilled the duty on which they had been sent to St. Helena. From them I learned that they had arrived in Jamestown, October 8, that the 15th had been fixed as the day of the exhumation: that day twenty five years before the emperor had set foot upon the island. I have been told that the scene was very solemn. There were H.R.H. Prince de Joinville, who represented the French government with much dignity. (He was then a young man of twenty two years, tall, broad chested, slim waisted, brown faced, dark eyed, much bearded beyond his years), followed by the veterans and faithful friends, Generals Bertrand and Gourgand, Count de Las Cases, Marchand (the Emperors valet), the Abbe Coqueran; the chaplain of the fleet, and the Count de Rohan-Chabot, the French government commissioner, they all proceeded with the English workmen to the valley of the tomb. The operations commenced at midnight. The men worked nine hours. At last a large slab, bearing no inscription, which covered the place where the stone sarcophagus lay, was removed. The outer coffin was of stone. It was perfect and could hardly be said to e damp. Then the inner coffins were opened. The outermost was slightly injured, then came the lead, which was in good condition, and inclosed one of tin and one of wood, the last lined with white satin, which, having been detached from the effects of time, had enveloped itself about the body, like a winding sheet, when it was raised the Emperor was, himself, before all eyes, The two inner coffins were carefully closed up again, and the leaden one blocked up with wedges of wood, and both were once more soldered with the utmost precaution. It was placed on the funeral car. On arriving at the entrance to the town, the troops of the garrison and militia formed in two lines as far as the extremity of the quay; the body was then received by the Prince de Joinville, carefully lowered between decks on La Belle Poule, and placed in the chapelle ardente, so called by the French, the place in which a dead person lies instate. The coffin was covered with the imperial mantle, surrounded by wax tapers, burning day and night, and a detachment of sailors and marines constantly on guard.

On the 8th December 1840 I was present at Cherbourg when the mayor deposited in the name of the town, a gold laurel branch upon the coffin, which was saluted by the forts by one thousand guns. When all the arrangements had been completed in Paris for the funeral, the coffin was lowered from the deck of La Belle Poule and placed on board the steamboat La Normandie, taken to La Havre, thence by the Seine to Paris, finally to be deposited in its final resting place at the Hotel des Invalides

Slow travel in Those Days.

In those days we could not boast of "rapid transit". The mode of travel in the interior of France was by diligence - the French stage coach. The speed was never very great, the relays frequent, the roads bad, for we were in the very depth of winter. It took us eleven days and eleven nights on the road before we reached Montpellier, from Cherbourg, a distance a little over one thousand miles, a journey which is, in our day, accomplished in about 48 hours.

The "diligence" was divided into three compartments - the coupe, or front part, for three persons; the interior, or middle compartment, to hold six, and the rotonde, or inside behind, made to accommodate four persons. There was also the Imperial, outside, top, for the conductor, and a banquette for three passengers. The diligence was drawn by five horses, two wheel horses and three leaders abreast, the postillion mounting one of the wheel horses. My brother, a man of unusual bulk, was in the habit, for his own accommodation, of engaging two seats in the diligence. He lived on the heights of Dinard in Britan. The diligence for Paris left Saint Malo on the opposite side of the River Rame. One evening he sent his servant over, a new man unacquainted with his habit, to secure his two seats in the coupe. The man arriving at coach office and finding only one place disengaged in the coupe agreed for the other one in the interior. The mistake was not discovered until the next morning. When the diligence was about to start, and the names of the passengers called to take their places, ifthe enormous size of the man had not frightened the would-be occupant of the place in the coupe to a ready and willing surrender of his seat, upon seeing the gigantic proportions of my brother, the situation would have been very trying.

Left the Vessel a Wreck.

After resting a few days at Montpellier we proceeded to Toulon, and were taken on board La Chimera, a French sloop of war, bound or Algiers with six hundred soldiers, arms and ammunition. There were several ships of war in Toulon Roads; indeed a whole fleet under Admiral Lalande, ready to sail for the East. By some means our unfortunate vessel got entangled with the Hercules, the admiral's ship of the line of one hundred and twenty guns. Sweeping over our mizzen, main mast and funnel, she left us a complete wreck; consequently the whole of the cargo and the troops had to be ransferred to another vessel, and a few days elapsed before we once more weighed anchor in the French steam frigate Euphrates. During our first night out the weather was rough, wave dashed against wave n angry conflict, and in the midst of a storm raging overhead fire was discovered in the caboose. Immediately the hatchways of the lower decks were closed to prevent a rush and confusion among the soldiers and sailors, the latter worked bravely, and at length the fie was mastered, not, however, before it had destroyed one of the frigate's paddle boxes, and so disabled our vessel that we were obliged to put into port for repairs. Then made for Port Mahon, Minorca, one of the Balearic Isles, East of Spain. After this we had no delay, and about two weeks from our departure from Toulon we beheld the town of the Pashas, Algiers.



C.L.G.E's account of his first visit to America

SIXTY YEARS AGO

"A glimpse of the West in 1835. Chicago and the Indians." "Written for The American"

It was in the month of June 1835. that I sailed from Havre de Grace, France, and, after a voyage of thirty seven days, arrived in New York. I landed in the morning and the same evening accepted an invitation to a ball given by the officers on board the French frigate L'Artemise, lying off the harbor. I was not a dancer, and was contented to be a looker on. During the course of the evening I entered into conversation with an elderly gentleman. His talk was so engaging, fascinating and charming that I listened to him for hours. We sauntered fore and abaft on the upper and upon the lower decks. I never left his side, nor could I weary of listening to him, and felt quite sorry to part from my new acquaintance when the boat came alongside to take me offto the shore in the early morning. I did not know his name. I know him to be a man of high social standing by the respect and deference all seemed to pay him, but at breakfast I was enlightened by the following remark from one of my young friends, "You were greatly honored last night" said he, "The gentleman who kept you in conversation nearly all night was Washington Irving". Thus it was that I had made the acquaintance of the great American diplomat, writer and historian. I have read since then many of his works The "Alhambra", "Bracebridge Hall", "Conquest of Granada" the "Life of Columbus" - and in all I have been able to trace the charm and quiet humour of that night's conversation aboard the French frigate.

A few days later I started on my Westward course. Travel in those days was very different from what it is now. We had no palace cars attached to the trains of lightening speed to convey the traveller across the continent, but I will go over the route mostly followed sixty years ago to reach Chicago. We went up the Hudson river in a steamboat as far as Albany. From Albany was a cable railroad, very rough, the cable being above ground, to Schenectady, where we took the Erie Canal to Buffalo. Canal travel would be considered much too slow in our day but at that time it was not thought disagreeable. A company of friends hired a boat and we were taken comfortably along. Arriving at a place where there where many locks to pass through they would get out and walk ahead and wait until the boat overtook them again to get on board and continue the journey. At Buffalo a steamboat took us to Detroit, and through Lake St. Clair Pass into Lake Huron; thence to the Straits of Machinaw, Fort Machinaw. There we met with a small remnant of the once powerful tribe of Mohegans, (good canoe men), living principally on fish, found in great abundance in those parts of the lake around the Manitou Islands.

Chicago in Those Days.

(At this point possibly two lines are missing from the text which then continues-)

Passing along a mean looking wooden jetty, we drew up to as mean looking a wharf and landing.

How shall 1 describe the famous city in those days? There was old Fort Dearborn, surrounded by its white pallisades, some log houses, a few frame residences and one brick building, lately erected, called "The Lake House Hotel". The North border of the lake, the present site of Lincoln Park, was covered by the wigwams of the Potawatamies. The treaty which the following year sent them West of the Mississippi River had not been concluded. Then I first beheld the place which was preparing to become the emporium of the West, for immediately after my first visit, it was adding thousands weekly to its population, preparing to mark out its streets, to construct its port and harbor, its numerous bridges and tunnels, to raise its noble mansions and warehouses and to drain its swamp, for all the land West was one jig marsh extending nine miles to the River Despaines, to which there was a railway that is to say, a railway fence- wooden rails placed across the road, to save the traveller from sinking deep into the water and mire.

I had an opportunity during my stay in Chicago of hearing a speech delivered at Fort Dearborn by the great statesman and orator, Daniel Webster. I remember him well. Mr. Webster was probably the grandest looking man of his time. He would not enter a room without having every eye fixed upon him; his eyes were dark and deep set, seemingly enkindled by some glowing thought. They shone from beneath an overhanging brow like lights in the blackness of night. He was accompanied by his son, Fletcher Webster, with whom I became more intimate afterwards, and to whom I have entertained since then feelings of the highest respect and regard. The deeds of these, men, who have long passed away, are recorded in the history of their country.

Indians Were Plentiful Then.

I must say something of the redmen, then forming the greater part of the population of the city. The Potawatamies have the characteristics of all American savages black hair, black eyes and cinnamon colored skin excepting the Mandans, whose complexions were nearly white and their eyes of a light blue, their hair silvery gray from childhood to old age. It is an easier matter to describe the Indian's person than to discern his character. He is at once volupiuary and stoic, swept by terrible gusts of fury, yet imperturbable: curious, yet reserved: proud and mean above compare; superior to torture, yet a coward in battle, capable of magnanimous actions which distance Roman virtue, yet more cunning, cruel and false than the Bengalee. During fifteen months sojourn among the Potawatamies, Mandans, Sioux, Kickapoos and other tribes, I found them kind and hospitable.The only white man (3 or 4 words missing) was the late George Catlin, taking the portraits of the most distinguished among the chiefs of these different tribes. It is said that the Indian is cruel andrevengeful. This I will admit to a certain extent. He never forgets an injury: nevertheless, I repeat it, he is kind and hospitable, and a stranger, when once he has been presented with and smoked the calumet, may dwell among them in perfect security. The savage is ignorant. If a white man slays his brother, of every white man he sees after he will say; "That man shot my brother," and he will take his revenge and shoot the white man.

Effect of the Portraits.

I will relate a curious incident I once witnessed while in company with George Catlin whose name I have already mentioned. When he had finished the portrait of any great chief he would expose it view to the whole assembled tribe, usually from the top of one of their wigwams, it is customary that the younger men should show the greatest respect towards the elder warriors. For this reason, no young man speaking to a chief looks him in the face, but casts down his eyes. Now when anyone looks fixedly at a portrait for any length of time, the portrait seems to return the gaze. So I have seen young Indians, after intently viewing the portrait of their chief, suddenly fancy that he was looking at them, and dismayed at their presumption, place their hands over their eyes and rush off to hide their shame for such an outrageous act of disrespect and remain away for hours on the prairie. Many times I have known the artist's patience severely tried after labouring for months among a tribe, and his work completed, he would be waited upon by a deputation of warriors and requested to destroy all their portraits. Sometimes a distinguished personage had had a dream foreboding ill luck if the portraits were carried away and desired to have them all destroyed then and there. Poor George was nearly broken hearted, and discouraged until he hit upon an expedient which saved his work. He would mix white clay with water, and when called upon to destroy he would take it on his brush and daub it over the painting, roll up the canvas and place it in bis canoe and when away down the river he would simply wash the clay from the canvas, and find the oil painting none the worse for the process, although in the sight of the chief it had seemingly been utterly destroyed.

Civilization has not worked.

When I went among these North American Indians I found them a noble race for savages, but the more civilization has gained upon them the lower they have sunk, the lower degradation and demoralization. I say this not only with reference to the tribes West of the Mississippi, for a few years ago I visited a remnant of the Vfowhawks,the Mickmaes and Millcent tribes, formerly occupying Canada, now principally found in the Province of New Brunswick. They are semi-civilized, but what of that? They are the scum of the earth, leading much worse lives than the Bohemians or Gypsies on the continent of Europe, vagabonds, tinkering, basket-making, apparently, but in reality fortune telling, stealing and drinking. The grog shops are not allowed, it is true, to sell them spirits, nevertheless they get them, and with them whiskey has fully done its work. Having once tasted of it, men, women and children eagerly thirst after it. But this is not the only scourge brought to the Indian by civilization. A disease, until then unknown to them, the smallpox, broke out in 1838, at the time I was with the Mandans. They then numbered about 2,600. Since then they have nearly all been carried off. They understood not vaccination, and, when it was offered to them refused it. They called it "great medicine", that is, with them, "mystery" and they rejected the use of it. I have seen their whitened bones scattered over the prairie for miles, where they dropped in their frenzied flight, running they knew not whither, terror seizing upon each and everyone when they saw in their midst, "the pestilence flying at noonday".

Twenty years ago I visited again parts of the country explored in my youth, where formerly 1 had found groves of magnificent trees I saw highly cultivated fields of grain. Upon the open prairie timber had grown, so that the face of the country I had passed through in my youth had become so altered as to be unrecognizable. Chicago, ranking now as the second city in the Union, with over a million of inhabitants, was not the city of 1835. I sought for the latter in vain.

An Escape From a Prairie Fire.

One more incident, which will tell as much as anything else of the change that has come over the face of the country, say within a radius of one hundred miles from Chicago, within the last fifty years. On one occasion near the Illinois River not far from where the towns of Lasalle and Peru now are built, I had, by a first shot, wounded a deer. I pursued it through the tall grass, dry and crisp as it is in the month of November. Having gone about a mile I came upon it and killed it with a second shot. While standing over it I heard a distant rushing noise, and, looking up, beheld a grand a sublime sight. The prairie was on fire, spreading over a large tract of land; the tall grass was waving, fiercely blazing, going fast upon me with an undulating motion. I had, doubtless, started the fire with the wadding from the first discharge of my gun. Only one thing remained for me to do. I quickly kindled a fire at my feet, which the wind soon carrying forward, left an open space before me, over which I dragged mygame, blistering my feet on the earth on which I trod, being nearly suffocated by the smoke. I had fire in front of me and in the other direction. It was gaining on me like a sea of flame, surging fearfully towards me but I was safe. I wonder what the farmers in the neighbourhood of Lasalle and Peru on the Illinois River would say if, at the present time, such an incident happened. What would most surprise them, the sight of a conflagration or that of a wild deer crossing over their well cultivated fields.

Charles L. Copinger.




Only a little bird

In 1859, some fifty years ago, I was residing, with my family, at Brighton, on the coast of Sussex in England, and my sister from Montpellier in the South of France was on a visit to us.

Workmen who were engaged clearing the rain spouts had dislodged a sparrow's next containing two unfledged little ones, they were left on the sidewalk, helpless, but my sister took them under her care and brought them up by hand. They grew and thrived. Unfortunately one of my sons, being in my sister's room stepped back and trampled upon one, crushing its life out. After that my sister would keep the other no longer, she said, "as it was able to fly, it must go out and seek its own living" and taking it into the garden left it there to shift for itself.

We lived in a crescent called Round Hill Crescent, two doors from the corner. Five doors higher up the hill, in the same crescent resided a friend, with whom I often took early morning walks over the Brighton downs. The morning after the dismissal of the forlorn young sparrow, on returning from my walk with my friend, passing jefore his house, on my way to my own home, he stopped me to say Come in and see my chickens, I have a splendid Spanish breed, and have made a place for them at the end of my garden". After inspecting the new fowls, we strolled up and down the gravel walk, when my friend called my attention to the antics of a young sparrow. He said" Do you know that that bird is following you, whichever side you turn he turns also." I answered this must be the little fledgling my sister sent off yesterday but he would require more attention and care than I could devote to him, therefore I will not notice him, upon this I left my friend and returned to my home. The same morning about one hour later I was sitting in my study, with the window wide open, breathing the sweet and balmy spring air, reading my newspaper, when there came from the garden such a tittering, chattering uproar that I thought all the birds in the neighbourhood had gathered together to make war on some cat. I ran to look out when in flew the unfortunate little cast-away of the day before, hunted and chased by a troop of his own fellow-sparrows who had refused to recognize in him one of their own kind, so he was driven to take shelter in the home in which he was born in the rain sprout from which he had been thoughtlessly ejected. From that day I claimed him as my own property and called him, "Dick".

Dick was a remarkable bird, altho'he was able to fly, as any other bird for his wings were never clipped, he never wandered far away from his home, perhaps he remembered the frightful encounter with the wild sparrows refusing to acknowledge him as " a friend and brother" on the morning when chased by them he flew into my room.

I would let him out of his cage every fine morning but he would soon be back at my window, pecking to be taken in. On one occasion when I let him out to have his mornings airing, some painters were about the house, and one of them was looking on when I opened the doors of the cage and told Dick to go and enjoy himself. He took one long flight not only to the end of the garden but over the garden wall. The man, standing by, exclaimed, "Well, Sir, you have lost him this time", however in a very short time, to the painter's astonishment, he lad soon returned home.

It was my habit immediately after my morning's ramble to go to my room for a shave. I used to tell the servant "do not open the sparrow's cage before I have reached my dressing room. Then, let lose he would fly up the stairs, into my room to alight on my shoulder. Afterwards to keep him quiet I used to give him a saucer of water for a bath in which he would flutter, splutter and amuse himself for a long time.

In the garden when the weather was fine I used to take a book and Dick. Then Dick was in his glory, fluttering and rolling on the gravel with his wings expanded and his sharp little eyes twinkling as if to express "what do you think of me now".

When, alone, deep in thought, I have a way of walking in my room, up and down. It was a curious sight to see the little bird following me, turning when I turn, stopping when I stopt, resuming the tread, hop, hop, hop, step by step with me, keeping it up for a long time.

Always an early riser, it has been my custom to take a "nap" in my armchair, after my mid-day meal. At such times the sparrow was always with me, as it were to watch over and protect me from harm. He used to perch on the arm of the chair, rest on my shoulder, creep into one of my pockets if the weather was wet or damp for he was always very sensitive to the cold. But if anyone came near my, he was out in a moment with beak open and wings expanded ready for a fight. My sons often had fun with him, for they delighted to point their finger at him to hear him shriek and see him suffer. 1 then would say, "Boys I know that you are teasing my Dick"

I got him in the spring, the summer and autumn passed away, but when the first winter set in, Dick began to droop, to pine, he was no longer lively and ready, as in former days to leave his cage.

One evening on returning home, I was told that he had been very restless. I went to his cage which hung in the family room, for Dick loved company, and hated to be leftlong alone. He came to the door as, as usual, close up against the wires, for one to take him out, but he fell back on the floor of his cage, I reached for him. He was cold, I placed him between my warm hands, I felt him fluttering, gently fluttering. A moment after looked at him. He was dead!

He was buried in the garden. If I had had an epitaph, I think the first words of Jouvenal's well known quotation would have been appropriate.

"Dick"

" 'Rara Avis interns".








My own story about him although the connection may be somewhat tenuous is that many years ago I came home late from work to find my wife, Pat, with three of her friends playing ouija board with an upturned glass on a polished table. They said they were having some success. Ever the cynic I placed a finger on the glass and asked “What are the Christian names of my great great grandfather”. At the time I doubt if I could remember all four names and certainly could not have put them in the correct order, nevertheless Pat and I removed our fingers from the glass. The glass, now touched only by three people who I do not believe had any knowledge of the family, moved deliberately round the table for a moment before settling firmly on the letters to spell out “Charles Louis George Emanuel”. I had to get out the “history” to check both the order and the spelling but having done so the game was stopped and has never been repeated . (Ian Copinger)



Contact us by e-mail   mailto:copinger@talktalk.net

This page was last updated on 02 August 2016 . 

Copyright © 2018   I. S. Copinger