When cataloguing letters between Victor Cavendish, future 9th Duke of Devonshire and his wife Evelyn Cavendish, one of our volunteers has been able to chart the life of a four legged member of the Cavendish family, Punch the dog!
Punch is lovingly referred to (despite his misbehaviour) throughout Victor and Evelyn’s correspondence of 1893 and 1894. In one of the first instances that we hear about Punch, Evelyn writes to Victor about how she is trying to house train him after he ‘misbehav[ed] on the library carpet’. The next time we hear of him, the cheeky puppy had managed to sneak two bags of sweets into his stomach whilst Evelyn wasn’t looking. However, unfortunately for Punch the sweets did not agree with him, as we can see from Evelyn’s account to Victor the next day: ‘Punch was violently sick last night (not in your room) owing to the sweets of course’, this incident however did not put Punch off eating things he shouldn’t as Evelyn went on to say that ‘he ate a hook & eye’.
|Letter from Evelyn Cavendish to Victor Cavendish, 19 December |
|Letter from Evelyn Cavendish to Victor Cavendish, [July 1894]|
|A photograph of dogs Punch and Fritz, taken from a family photograph album|
These letters are an endearing set of personal correspondence between husband and wife that show us what life was like for the couple before they became Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. We can never know what Victor and Evelyn were like as people, but the style and vividness of their letters really can give us a feeling about their personalities, they show a caring husband and a couple that doted on each other and their families and through these letters we meet the people (and animals!) who played big parts in their lives.