Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Lost Books - Part 1

Reading Whitnash Parish Magazine in the 1860s, I came across this page:

The following additions have been made to the Village Library, There has also been a kind gift from Miss H. Brandt, of Clydesdale, Holly Walk, Leamington, of tales and romances to the " Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society," which have not yet been added to the catalogue, but will be at the disposal of the young men during the coming winter season.

Here's the first section of these books, more to follow. They are "lost books" not in the sense that they've completely disappeared, but they have vanished from our horizons, and probably also from most libraries. Yet some of these were the most popular books of their day!

After the list, I've tracked down some of the writers, and some extracts, so you can read them for yourself, and have a sense of the "flavour" of the kind of material people were reading, presumably for pleasure! Remember that Whitnash is a village, and not a metropolis - in an urban setting, I suspect there would be a wider choice of reading material, and more "penny dreadfuls" to hand.

This is also a library, and libraries have often been very conservative where books are concerned, with their own boundaries for what to take in. But for a rural community, and with expensive hardbacks the norm (Tauchnitz editions - an early paperback - had only just begun in 1841), the source of most books, apart from a family Bible, would have been the village library.

What is notable is the piety of the books, and the themes of death and faith which run through them. Faith is a virtue, almost a heroic virtue to these Victorians, and the trials of faith facing the world and in the face of death come across in ways that seem alien to us, but then we do not live in a world with high infant mortality. The books open up their world to us, and it is a strange and very different world to the one we live in today.

There were diseases like the Indian Cholera or Small Pox sweeping in across the land, with very little in the way of disease control, or indeed understanding of what caused the disease to spread. Dr John Snow's groundbreaking work in showing contaminated water was a major source of infection had only been made after the cholera outbreak in England of 1854, and his work was still deemed controversial by the authorities.

There's a figure of boy in a Scout Uniform on a grave in St Brelade's cemetery, aged 10, died Christmas day. This was the kind of world that they lived in, where most children would die before their parents, because children were more vulnerable to the sicknesses that beset the land. Is it any wonder that they turned to their faith as a form of succour?

Finish then thy new creation,
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in thee,
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love and praise!

Protestantism had discarded purgatory, but it had retained heaven and hell. Many hymns speak of going to heaven after death, and indeed this is still the legacy in our popular culture, even among those who only go to church for life events. The notion of resurrection was alien to them, and would still have been taken (as with the paintings of the Middle Ages) as a kind of resuscitation of the dead who were buried, and that had, by and large been discarded, or taken as mythical, or simply a visionary experience confirming life after death.

And in a world where heaven and death were pressing hard, how to behave became even more important, to be good -in the words of the hymn, "Christian children all must be / mild, obedient, good like he". Hence the popularity of sermons and exhortations, and examples of how to live a virtuous life, because these were matters as important as the harvest festival.

301 Kenneth
302 Boy Princes
303 The Plant Hunters
304 Memoirs of G. Breay
305 Useful Arts
306 Messenger of Peace
307 Extraordinary Men
308 The Successful Merchant
309 God's Heroes and the World's Heroes
310 The Two Guardians
311 The Boy's own Book of Boats
312 Childrens' Stories
313 The Dairyman's Daughter
314 Sunday Echoes in Weekday Hours
315 The Bear Hunters
316 Gurney's Sermons, vol. I
317 Gurney's Sermons, vol. 11
318 Manufactories

The Dairyman's Daughter

The Dairyman's Daughter sounds like it might be a romance, but it is a work of piety; it is an early 19th century Christian religious booklet of 52 pages, which had a remarkably wide distribution and influence. It was a narrative of the religious experience of Elizabeth Wallbridge, written up by the Reverend Legh Richmond, after her death, and she was the person after whom the book was named.

"Often I mourn over my sins and sometimes have a great conflict, through unbelief, fear, temptation, to return to my old ways--I was laughed at by some, scolded by others, scorned by my enemies and pitied by my friends, but I forgave and prayed for my persecutors, and remembered how very lately I had acted this same part toward others myself."

Wikipedia notes that:

"During most of the 19th century Christian writers favoured and extensively used sickness and deathbed experiences. However, and partly because of this morbid theme, the book, while extremely popular for three-quarters of a century, is not well adapted to the tastes and the requirements of the 20th century and beyond. The book is now not widely known, although the short text of it has been reprinted innumerable times in various anthologies, and publications including the text are still in print today."

316 Gurney's Sermons, vol. I
317 Gurney's Sermons, vol. 11
309 God's Heroes and the World's Heroes

John Hampden Gurney (15 August 1802 - 8 March 1862) was an Anglican clergyman and hymnist. The Dictionary of National Biography tells us that: "He was a most earnest and popular preacher, and published many of his sermons, as well as the lectures which he composed for the Young Men's Christian Association. "

Books that he wrote included:

II. SERMONS on the EPISTLES and GOSPELS for particular Sundays.
III. The MORAL of a SAD STORY ; Four Sermons on the Indian Mutiny ; with copious Notes.
IV. A SERMON preached in Lambeth Palace Chapel, at the Consecration of the Lord Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol ; with an Appendix, containing some Remarks on Preaching in the Church of England.
V. The AGE of DISCOVERY; The First Printers; Columbus; Luther ; Galileo.
VI. ST. LOUIS and HENRY IV. ; being a Second Series of Historical Sketches.
VII. GOD'S HEROES and the WORLD'S HEROES ; being a Third Series of Historical Sketches.
VIII. The LOST CHIEF and the MOURNING PEOPLE; Lessons of the Life of Wellington

Here is an example of his writing, taken from one of his books of sermons. He makes distinction between "fashionable virtues", which are not really virtues at all, but which the world counts as such, and are "tamper frequently with conscience by excusing little sins", and the courage to stand firm against the world with Christian values, which are truth and honesty. There is a notion of a nominal observance of faith, which inside is full of "rottenness":

"But O remember, I pray you, in common life the same thing is repeated every day. Men who cannot see clearly, and stand firmly, when tempted on their weak side, - who are not in the habit of referring things to a definite standard of right and wrong, - who are continually walking in slippery paths of their own choosing, and who tamper frequently with conscience by excusing little sins, or sins that the world is never likely to detect, - are like hunted men, many a time, when some crisis in their lives comes which is to fix their fate. They will not plunge down deep into shame if they can help it; and yet difficulties seem to dog them on every side but one. While the danger lasts, they are in bondage to friends and neighbours, the slaves of their own fears, at their wit's end to find out some new device which may save their credit for a month or week ; and all because they have sold themselves to evil in some form or other, - because they are linked in with some from whom they do not choose to part, - or because by habit a tortuous course has become more natural to them than the path of uprightness. Try to live in the broad open daylight of truth and honesty, my brethren. Be just to yourselves, even as your reason and conscience tells you the ruler should be just when he sits to arbitrate between man and man, or between the law and the law-breaker. Never parley with temptation. Remember, if you have not courage to do right when it costs you something to do it, - if fashionable virtues are all that you make much of, and sin in any shape be weighed in the scales against evil of other kinds as that which perchance may be the lighter of the two, - then all your goodness, or fair-seeming outside show of propriety, is a chance thing, and God, who looketh not at the outward appearance, seeth unsoundness and rottenness within. Alas! because the common life of many of us presents few temptations, our virtues are poorly tested. We are safe for the time because we live in a guarded place, and have many inducements to keep right with the better part of our neighbours. But that is a poor sort of security which any accident may disturb; and happy is the man who can appeal to God for protection, conscious that his heart's desire is to be found and kept in the way of uprightness."

Sunday Echoes in Weekday Hours: A Tale Illustrative of the Church Catechism

This book was written by Mrs Carey Brock in 1867. It is the tale of a mischievous child, whose bad manners are the result of having lost her mother, and having a father who really doesn't care much for any moral values. The way to redemption lies in the Church Catechism - the one in the Book of Common Prayer - and the whole book is a series of pegs in which it is explained to other children.

There was another book lying open on the little table in the chimney comer, which looked, from its appearance, very much as though it had been occupying some one's attention very recently. Mrs Stancombe took it up. Nellie trembled, and fully expected to see one of Mrs. Blake's well-known frowns darken over the kind face before her. But to her surprise, it was with a smile that the clergyman's lady said, ";The Children in the Wood,' I see. Can you make this out, Nellie ?" " Oh, yes," the child replied. ''And you like it better than your Catechism?" "Yes," said Nellie, ''a great deal." She did not say '' ma'am," for, as Mrs. Blaise had told her only the day before, '' Nellie Morton knew no manners ;" but the clergyman's lady, pleased with the truthfulness of the child, was willing to excuse her absence of politeness.

''I dare say you do," she said, gently. "I'm afraid, Nellie, I did too at your age." '' Did you ?" asked Nellie, drawing nearer, and half her fear vanishing when she found that the lady could not only sympathize in her love for her favourite yellow - covered story-book, but had actually in her own childhood been guilty of the sin of preferring it to the Church Catechism. " Did you read the ' Children in the Wood' when you were a little girl ?" "

Yes," replied the lady, '' I read it over and over again. But, Nellie, I read my Catechism too, and learned it also. I could say every word of it when I was ten years old. How old are you?" '' I shall be ten to-morrow." " And you are to keep your birthday by beginning to learn your Catechism. I don't think you could keep it better : but it is a good thing for you, Nellie, or rather, a good thing for your father that you did not live three hundred years ago' Nellie's blue eyes were opened wide. It was easy to see that she could be intelligent enough in anything that interested her.

'' Yes, indeed"' said Mrs. Stancombe, remarking this, "for in those days, Nellie, the father of a little girl like you, who could not say her Catechism at ten years old, would have had to give ten shillings to the poor's box." "Father wouldn't give it," said Nellie, abruptly. " He couldn't, for he hasn't got it to give ! and he don't care for me to learn my Catechism at all. He told me not to bother when I asked him what it meant. But I must learn it, or Mrs. Blake said I shouldn't come to school."

"And you like to go to school ?" ''No, I don't," said Nellie. '' Then why would you be sorry not to go ?" ''Because I want to know how to read, and write, and work, and do everything that mother did when she was here." " And mother is dead ?" said Mrs. Stancombe, gently, becoming more and more interested every moment in this strange little girl of ten years old, whom the village mistress had pronounced that very day to be a " wicked, troublesome child," yet who was so truthful in her words, and who, though she did not like learning, yet wished to learn for the sake of the advantages to be gained. "Yes"' said Nellie, ''she died five years ago. If she hadn't died, I could learn my Catechism, for she taught me everything; I wasn't ever in trouble then.''

What is also interesting is that it mentions a popular book which was not one of piety, "The Children in the Wood". This was an extremely short ballad, often issued as a pamphlet or with other fairy tales. There was, a 1831 edition, on "India paper, price four shillings each". The story is simple, and an older one than 1831, often in the form of a ballad - an uncle plots to kill his orphaned niece and nephew in order to steal the money left to them by their parents, and he hires ruffians to kill them, under the presence of sending them to school, then they escape but die of hunger in the wood -

No burial this pretty pair
Of any man receives,
Till Robin-red-breast painfully
Did cover them with leaves

- and then the Uncle is plagued with attacks of a guilty conscience and misfortune, his sons die, and he himself dies in gaol, which is seen as the "wrath of God" come down upon him for behaving in this way.

He bargained with two ruffians strong,
Which were of furious mood,
That they should take these children young,
And slaye them in a wood :
And told his wife and all he had,
He did the children send
To be brought up in faire London,
With one that was his friend.
Away then went these pretty babes,
Rejoycing at that tide,
Rejoycing with a merry minde,
They should on cock-horse ride.
They prate and prattle pleasantly,
As they rode on the waye,
To those that should their butchers be,
And work their lives decaye.

The Two Guardians by Charlotte Mary Yonge

Charlotte Mary Yonge (11 August 1823 - 24 May 1901), was an English novelist, known for her huge output, now mostly out of print. Wikipedia notes that:

She was born into a religious family background, was devoted to the Church of England, and much influenced by John Keble, Vicar of Hursley from 1835, a near neighbour and one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement. Yonge is herself sometimes referred to as "the novelist of the Oxford Movement", as her novels frequently reflect the values and concerns of Anglo-Catholicism. She remained in Otterbourne all her life and for 71 years was a teacher in the village Sunday school

Her book reflects again the theme of death coupled with that of duty, another virtue of the Victorian age:



Throughout these tales the plan has been to present a picture of ordinary life, with its small daily events, its pleasures, and its trials, so as to draw out its capabilities of being turned to the best account. Great events, such as befall only a few, are thus excluded, and in the hope of helping to present a clue, by example, to the perplexities of daily life, the incidents, which render a story exciting, have been sacrificed, and the attempt has been to make the interest of the books depend on character painting.

When Marian, in a dress of deep mourning, was slowly pacing the garden paths, her eyes fixed on the ground, and an expression of thoughtful sadness on her face. Heavy indeed had been the strokes that had fallen upon her. Before the last summer had closed, the long sufferings of her father had been terminated by one of the violent attacks, which had often been expected to be fatal. Nor was this all that she had to mourn. With winter had come severe colds and coughs; Lady Arundel was seized with an inflammation of the chest, her constitution had been much enfeebled by watching, anxiety, and grief, and in a very few days her children were orphans.

It was the day following the funeral. Mrs. Wortley was staying in the house, as were also the two guardians of the young Sir Gerald Arundel and his sister. These were Mr. Lyddell, a relation of Lady Arundel; and our former acquaintance, Edmund Arundel, in whom, young as he was, his uncle had placed full confidence. He had in fact been entirely brought up by Sir Edmund, and knew no other home than Fern Torr, having been sent thither an orphan in earliest childhood. His uncle and aunt had supplied the place of parents, and had been well rewarded for all they had done for him, by his consistent well doing and completely filial affection for them.

Marian was startled from her musings by his voice close at hand, saying, "All alone, Marian?"

"Gerald is with Jemmy Wortley, somewhere," she replied, "and I begged Mrs. Wortley and Agnes to go down the village and leave me alone. I have been very busy all the morning, and my head feels quite confused with thoughts!"
"I am glad to have found you," said Edmund. "I have seen so little of you since I have been here."
"Yes, you have been always with Mr. Lyddell. When does he go?"
"To-morrow morning."
"And you stay longer, I hope?"
"Only till Monday; I wish it was possible to stay longer, but it is something to have a Sunday to spend here."
"And then I am afraid it will be a long time before we see you again."
"I hope not; if you are in London, it will be always easier to meet."
"In London! Ah! that reminds me I wanted to ask you what I am to say to Selina Marchmont. I have a very kind letter from her, asking us to come to stay with her directly, and hoping that it may be arranged for us to live
with them."
"Ah! I have a letter from her husband to the same effect," said Edmund. "It really is very kind and friendly in them."
"Exceedingly," said Marian. "Will you read her letter, and tell me how I am to answer her!"
"As to the visit, that depends upon what you like to do yourself. I should think that you would prefer staying with the Wortleys, since they are so kind as to receive you."
"You don't mean," exclaimed Marian, eagerly, "staying with them for ever!"
Edmund shook his head. "No, Marian, I fear that cannot be."
"Then it is as I feared," sighed Marian. "I wonder how it is that I have thought so much about myself; but it would come into my head, what was to become of us, and I was very much afraid of living with the Lyddells; but still there was a little glimmering of hope that you might be able to manage to leave us with the Wortleys."
"I heartily wish I could," said Edmund, "but it is out of my power. My uncle--"
"Surely papa did not wish us to live with the Lyddells?" cried Marian.
"I do not think he contemplated your living any where but at home."
"But the Vicarage is more like home than any other place could ever be," pleaded Marian, "and papa did not like the Lyddells nearly so well as the Wortleys."
"We must abide by his arrangements, rather than our own notions of his wishes," said Edmund. "Indeed, I know that he thought Mr. Lyddell a very sensible man."

The bear hunters: or, The fatal ravine, a melodrama in two acts by John Baldwin Buckstone

Unfortunately I have not been able to track down anything much about this, which seems the most unusual of the books listed here. John Baldwin Buckstone (14 September 1802 - 31 October 1879) was an English actor, playwright and comedian who wrote 150 plays, the first of which was produced in 1826. The Bear Hunters was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Victoria, September 5th, 1825

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