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The sparrows are naughty, they pull off the flowers. There are two nests, just under the gutter at the top of our house. We see them flying up with grass to make the nest. We do not like it because the little birds fall out onto our door-steps.
I hope that you and Eric will have a very good time,
and with love I remain yrs aff
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