John Ruskin (Victorian-era writer and art critic), Prataerita [Of Past Things], 1899—
…I was never permitted for an instant [as a child] to hope, or even imagine, the possession of such things as one saw in toy shops. I had a bunch of keys to play with, as long as I was capable only of pleasure in which glittered and jingled; as I grew older, I had a cart, and a ball; and when I was five or six years old, two boxes of well-cut wooden bricks.
With these modest, but, I still think, entirely sufficient possessions, and being always summarily whipped if I cried, did not do as I was bid, or tumbled on the stairs, I soon attained serene and secure methods of life and motion; and could pass my days contently in tracing the squares and comparing the colors of my carpet; examining the knots in the wood of the floor, or counting the bricks in the opposite houses; with rapturous intervals of excitement during the fillling of the water cart, through its leathern pipe, from the dripping iron post at the pavement edge; or the still more admirable proceedings of the turncock, when he turned and turned until a fountain sprang up in the middle of the street. But the carpet, and what patterns I could find in the bed covers, dresses, or wallpapers to be examined, were my chief resources, and my attention to the particulars in these was soon so accurate that, when at three and a half I was taken to have my portrait painted by Mr. [James] Northcote, I had not been ten minutes alone with him before I asked him why there were holes in his carpet.