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Monday; I am sure you must have enjoyed Felixstow[e], I dare say you had a [spade] and a [bucket]. I expect to find some shells.
I went to the zoo and it rained. The seals seemed to like the rain, but most of the animals were in their little houses. The big elephant is dead. What a pity! They went to Mr Rhind a chemist for some medicine, but it died. It is going to be put in the museum. There is a new lion at the zoo, which is so savage, it made a great noise.
I have got some pretty hyacinths in my garden.
Once again Potter writes to Noel about a trip to the zoo, an opportunity to draw exotic animals in addition to familiar creatures such as the rabbits gamboling at the head of the letter and the sparrows nesting at the end. As much as Potter loved her pets, she was also remarkably unsentimental about animals, both as a naturalist who studied them from a scientific point of view and as a farmer who tended livestock for sale and home consumption. The death of the elephant was regrettable but also occasioned a comic drawing of the valetudinarian about to receive a jumbo dose of medicine. The mother sparrow lamenting the loss of her baby is a parody of grief.
Beatrix Potter (1866–1943)
Autograph letter signed, London, to Noel Moore, April 6, 1896
Gift of Colonel David McC. McKell, 1959; MA 2009.7