• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

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Poetry Friday: Back to school edition

Rather timely, between the school theme and how well old Jonathan would fit in with text messaging.

Jonathan Bing Does Arithmetic
by Beatrice Curtis Brown (1901-1974)

When Jonathan Bing was young, they say,
He slipped his school and ran away;
Sat in the meadow and twiddled his thumbs
And never learnt spelling or grammar or sums.

So now if you tell him, “Add one to two”,
“Explain what you mean,” he’ll answer you,
“Do you mean 2-morrow or that’s 2 bad?
And what sort of 1 do you want me to add?

“For there’s 1 that was first when when the race was 1,
(For he ran 2 fast for the rest to run).
But if 2 had 1 when the race was through,
I’d say your answer was 1 by 2.”

“Oh Jonathan Bing, you haven’t the trick
Of doing a sum in arithmetic.”
“Oh give me a chance, just one more try,”
Says Jonathan Bing with a tear in his eye.

“Very well, Jonathan, try once more,
Add up a hundred and seventy-four.”
“A hundred, and seventy-four,” says he,
“Why — that’s a great age for a person to be!”

from my ragged old copy of the Arrow Book of Funny Poems, collected by Eleanor Clymer (Scholastic, 1961), originally published in Jonathan Bing and Other Poems, 1936.

Looking for more information on Miss Brown, I found this from a genealogical site (emphasis mine),

Victor [John Adey Horton] was born in 1912 and read English at New College Oxford. Family talk says that he was sent down after a scandal concerning the mother of one of his student friends and that he then became a serial toy boy to several wealthy society ladies.

Victor’s engagement to Beatrice Curtis Brown was announced in The Times in 12th January 1938. The advertisement read “Mr V J A Horton and Miss Curtis Brown – The engagement is announced between Mr Victor John Adey Horton of 9, Chelsea Embankment, son of Mr and Mrs W J Horton of Bognor Regis and Beatrice, only daughter of Mr and Mrs A Curtis Brown of 27, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.” The Times dated Monday 4th July 1938 carried the following announcement: Horton : Curtis Brown – On July 2, 1938 at Lisle, New York, USA by the Rev Walter Lord, DD, the Rev Robert Howland assisting, V J Adey Horton of London to Beatrice only daughter of Mr and Mrs Curtis Brown of 27 Cheyne Walk, London. Beatrice was a wealthy American publisher’s daughter, a poet and writer. Beatrice had at least 11 books published and was featured on a program on Radio 3. The Times published an article featuring her wedding dress. The marriage was annulled, on the claim that it had not been consumated [sic].

This was the only bit of biographical information I could find about Miss Brown, other than her life dates at Bartleby. Doing the arithmetic, unlike Jonathan Bing, I noticed that Miss Curtis Brown was 37 at the time of her marriage, and that her husband was 11 years her junior. If anyone knows any more about her life between 1938 and her death in 1974, I’d be interested to hear it.

Jennie at Biblio File is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup. Thanks, Jennie!


6 Responses

  1. well the age thing accords with the toy-boy accusations. How scandalous. I bet it was consummated and her rich parents were not amused… but I speculate.

    As you can see, I read it all. Poem and background. I liked the poem, though that kind of rhyming, rhythmical children’s stuff has never been as much of a psychological problem for me anyway. Fun. Thanks.

  2. I like the poem and the story. People are endlessly fascinating, aren’t they? They show as many sides and do as many surprising things as the numbers one and two.

  3. Evidently not A Night to Remember even though Walter Lord officiated at the wedding. And if the A. Curtis Brown of Cheyne Walk was the Albert Curtis Brown who founded the still-flourishing Curtis Brown literary agency then it’s possible that Beatrice was the daughter of a British literary agent rather than the daughter of an American publisher. But why a wedding in the hamlet of Lisle, New York? There’s one for the books.

  4. JoVE, a little bit of doggerel is always a fun place to start, as is a background with boy toys

    Sherry, endlessly! And more interesting than anything one could make up.

    OC, I was wondering where you were. I’m sure it must have been Alberta, but then he’d be the American-born (NYC, I think) British literary agent. I did see in a 1945 issue of Time that he expired at the age of 78 in Whitney Point, NY — is that close to Lisle? Maybe the old family homestead. And we can’t all be married in Cooperstown.

    Ah, Albert, and his wife Caroline, both born in Lisle,


    Thank goodness for Google.

  5. Fun poem and fascinating digging, Becky!

  6. Thanks, Karen!

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