Richard Babley, is not a real person. He is a fictional character out of the Charles Dickens novel, "David Copperfield". He resides with Copperfield's aunt and though the aunt would deny it, Richard Babley is not quite right in the head, for he believes that the trouble that was in the head of King Charles (when it was ceremoniously removed by the Cromwellian Parliament) entered his own. But what is interesting about Richard Babley, affectionately known as "Mr. Dick" by those who know him and esteem him, is his passion for kites. In the following scene, as a young Mr. Copperfield is concluding his first visit to Mr. Dick we find the mention of the kite:
I was going away, when he directed my attention to the kite.
"What do you think of that for a kite?" he said.
I answered that it was a beautiful one. I should think it must have been as much as seven feet high.
"I made it. We'll go and fly it, you and I," said Mr. Dick. "Do you see this?"
He showed me that it was covered with manuscript, very closely and laboriously written; but so plainly, that as I looked along the lines, I thought I saw some allusion to King Charles the First's head again, in one or two places.
"There's plenty of string," said Mr. Dick, "and when it flies high, it takes the facts a long way. That's my manner of diffusing 'em. I don't know where they may come down. It's according to circumstances, and the wind, and so forth; but I take my chances of that."
His face was so very mild and pleasant, and had something so reverend in it, though it was hale and hearty, that I was not sure but that he was having a good-humored jest with me. So I laughed, and he laughed, and we parted the best friends possible.
Some pages later Charles Dickens describes the effects of kite flying on Mr. Dick.
Mr. Dick and I soon became the best of friends, and very often, when his day's work was done, went out together to fly the great kite...
It was quite an affecting sight, I used to think, to see him with the kite when it was up a great height in the air. What he had told me, in his room, about his belief in its disseminating the statements pasted on it, which were nothing but old leaves of abortive Memorials, might have been a fancy with him sometimes, but not when he was out, looking up at the kite in the sky, and feeling it pull and tug at his hand. He never looked so serene as he did then. I used to fancy, as I sat by him of an evening, on a green slope, and saw him watch the kite high in the quiet air, that it lifted his mind out of its confusion, and bore it (such was my boyish thought) into the skies. As he wound the string in, and it came lower and lower down out of the beautiful light, until it flutterd to the ground, and lay there like a dead thing, he seemed to wake gradually out of a dream; and I remember to have seen him take it up, and look about him in a lost way, as if they had both come down together, so that I pitied him with all my heart.
Reading these passages as a young man affected me greatly and influenced an interest in kite flying. In honor of Mr. Dick, I have developed a newspaper kite (not seven feet high but large enough), that I call the Richard Babley Memorial Kite.
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