My parents' children

Their first child was a daughter, born 27th April 1889. She was to have been called Mary Waddington, but the birth was so difficult and protracted that she was stillborn. Mother contracted the dreaded puerperal fever, and her life hung in the balance for months. Despite Father’s best efforts, and it must be remembered that by this time anaesthetics and antiseptics were in common use, though penicillin and the antibiotics were still unknown, she was desperately ill for a very long time, and it was feared that she would never be able to have any more children.

However my eldest brother, the Rev. John Waddington Hubbard was born on 15th Jan. 1896, amid much rejoicing. He (Jack) was a gentle amenable boy, extremely brainy and intellectual, and he and I were always, and have always remained, the greatest of friends.

My second brother, the Rev. George Edward Hubbard was born the 31st July 1897. George was not put too fine a point on it a perfect little devil, disobedient and utterly perverse, and how Mother ever coped with him I cannot imagine.

The only daughter (myself) Frances Ann Hubbard, was born on the 6th of Dec. 1899.

My youngest brother, Arthur Benoni Hubbard, was born on the 20th Jan.1901. Ben was a Mongol, but a very “High-grade” one. I spent a great deal of my childhood in looking after him and eventually taught him to read and write. When I eventually went to boarding school at the age of 13, Mother could no longer cope with him, and they flatly refused to send him into an Institution. He was sent to live with the widow of a clergyman, and Mother would only have him home during my school holidays, so that I could look after him. He died at the age of 44.

From Victorian Hangover Chapter 2.

George was an extremely handsome child, with huge brown eyes, usually gleaming with wickedness, and a mop of dark gold curls which later deepened to brown. His looks were entirely belied by his temperament, for he can only be described as a perfect little devil, hot-tempered, turbulent and utterly unmanageable, his whole nature seemed to be in a permanent state of revolt against anything and everything.. He took a fiendish delight in upsetting and annoying people, and when Jack and. I were quietly playing together, he would rush in like a whirlwind and send everything flying, then dash off again before we could lay hands on him. All the storminess of his nature was vented on me, and he made my life a burden and misery with his tormenting. I have had my arms black and blue from elbow to shoulder with his pinches. He was utterly “contrary”, and always did the precise opposite of what we others were doing. 

At the seaside he would refuse to come bathing with the nurse, Jack and me, but as soon as we were dried and dressed again, and placidly eating our biscuits on the beach with Mother and Ben, George would walk off into the sea fully dressed and with his white linen hat on, and stroll about quite calmly in water up to his neck.

He never made any attempt with his lessons, and never passed a single exam at school. As far as we could make out, he spent most of his time at school in chasing the Headmaster’s fowls, and great was his delight when one day an unfortunate hen dropped her egg in mid-air. According to George’s own account he caught it in his cap, and took it to the Head Master’s wife, oozing virtue from every pore, telling her he had found it, and was promptly rewarded for being a good little boy with a cake. 

George had an absolute genius for acting the good little boy when it suited him. His great brown eyes, golden curls, and thin, handsome little face, enabled him to get away with juvenile villainies which would never have been exonerated in a small boy of less appealing appearance. George’s policy was one of complete and exclusive non cooperation, he would not even join in the games at school, and Jack has told me that on the football field George would always stand with hunched shoulders and sulky glower making not the slightest move to join in the games. When the ball was deliberately kicked to his feet, in the attempt to make him take part, he would merely look more sulky and obstinate than ever, and remain absolutely motionless. Nothing and nobody could get any co-operation out of George whatever, unless he chose. He never joined in games with Jack and me, but spent almost all his free time in building churches with a very large and comprehensive box of bricks that had belonged to Father. These buildings were really most remarkable for a small boy, and George would spend hours and days, and even weeks, on the same building. A special table had to be given up entirely to his buildings, for if ever one of us others dared to approach his precious churches, the resultant tornado of fury was so violent and alarming, that Mother saw to it that as little occasion as possible was given for an outburst. Even as a very small boy George was always drawing churches, and as he grew older he would get photographs of famous cathedrals and reproduce them with his bricks in the most wonderful manner. It was not surprising that when the time came for to choose a career, it was architecture that he turned to. He became the most brilliant student of his year, and he who had never passed any exam in the whole of his previous life, came out top in every exam at the architectural college, and carried off prizes and diplomas wholesale. For several years he had a most promising career in architecture, and his powers of design were quite exceptional, but then he gave it up and took Holy Orders.

For some strange reason, despite our devotion to each other, Jack never seemed to consider it any part of his duty to interfere in the ceaseless warfare that raged between George and me, or to protect me from his bullying. His attitude was one of Olympian aloofness, and in later years I have recognised Jack In the account of the Jewish riots about St. Paul, where it is recorded (Acts ch. XVIII v. 17) that they took and beat Sosthenes before the judgement seat, and Gallio cared for none of these things. Jack was Gallio to the life; George and I would grip handfuls of each others golden curls and indulge in shin kicking matches to the accompaniment of uproar and shrieking fury, and Jack would unassailable hold on his way until the tyranny was over. Neither did it ever occur to me to demand his protection. When I have asked him of recent years, why he never intervened on my behalf, his reply, in tones of benevolent confidence was, “Oh, I knew you were quite capable of taking care of yourself”. And so I undoubtedly was. On one occasion George had driven me to such a pitch of ungovernable fury that I seized a heavy slate that was in the nursery and flew at him like a small, shrieking Gorgon. Although I could not have been much more than five or six, and he much bigger and two and a half years older, such was the force of my fury that I beat him down in a corner, and deliberately set to work to beat in his skull with the edge of the slate. I still remember that I was quite determined to kill him, and it is quite likely that I should have seriously injured him had not our concerted shrieks brought the nurse running with Mother on her heels. I was snatched up, still flailing the air wildly with the slate, while George was picked up completely dazed. Jack took not the slightest notice, though he remembered the incident clearly enough to remind me of it recently.

It is only fair to George to add that his Confirmation had a most remarkable effect on him. He seemed to become a different boy entirely, and although he did not by any means become a saint overnight, yet his old cruel bullying of Ben and myself very soon became a thing of the past. His kindness and devotion to Ben, which was quickly responded to by the gentle affectionate little fellow, remained unbroken to the end of Ben’s life. In my case, I had served far too hard an apprenticeship at George’s hands to be able quickly to forget, or to entrust him with my confidence, and for a long time his overtures of friendship were treated with the utmost suspicion on my part. Eventually, however, we became, and have continued, excellent friends, though as we are as much alike in temperament as Jack and I are in features, our friendship has more often than not, resembled a state of armed neutrality, in which hostilities are liable to break out at a moment’s notice, and we have never achieved the deep affection and comradeship which Jack and I have always enjoyed.