20th February 1826

Trigonometry all morning at school, with questions copied from The Young Student’s Praeceptor and Pocket Companion  (‘Calculated for the improvement of Youth at School, such as have not the Opportunity of a Private Tutor’). I now know how to accurately estimate the height of a castle or lighthouse from a nearby hillock. I cannot help but wonder whether this will this be of much service in later life.

I sat next to Percy and so wrote him my own puzzler:

From the top of Ballast’s-Head (a bare mound, devoid of life) (A) to the tip of his nose (a craggy protusion) (B), there is an acute depression (AB). Calculate, to the nearest whole number, the cause of his misery, viz. how many pupils are paying propositions (X), expressed as the root of all evil. Be sure to conceal you’re working. (CD)

Percy laughed and we would both have got thwacked, had I not expertly hidden the paper down my trousers.

I attempted to commence the next scene of The Gadabout Duke this evening but Fred and Alf were making a horrible din. They were playing at soldiers on the stairs, taking and re-taking the landing with imaginary artillery, bombardments which made it quite impossible to concentrate. I told them to negotiate an immediate ceasefire but they have no fear whatsoever of my moral authority. I asked Papa to intervene and he replied that he ‘could not quench a martial spirit which might, at some distant remove, upon a foreign shore, do enormous credit to this great nation’ – and then he went back to reading the newspaper. 

Instead, I went outside and estimated the height of No. 13, Johnson Street, from the base of our steps. It is 34 feet and four inches.

10 o’clock p.m.

Mama still seems rather vexed that Papa did not attend church yesterday – she did not even wish him ‘good night’ when she went up to bed. He remarked that he was sorry the hats had come between them. I had half a mind to point out that they are actually between my bed and my wardrobe.

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