I'm indebted to a friend of mine for this month's post. She was having a clear-out, and decided that a pile of books which had belonged to her grandfather finally had to go. Most of them went to Glastonbury Rural Life Museum - but I managed to divert a few of them my way. Here's one of them.
You should just about be able to say that the inscription inside the book is dated 1905, and says:
Rowland Edgar Weston
From his Mother
on his sixth Birthday.
The publishers are EP Dutton & Co New York, and Ernest Nister London. It's a collection of verses, short stories and nursery rhymes: a few are credited to the author, but many aren't - and I can't see any credits to the illustrator.
Of course, they are very clearly from a bygone age. But the illustrations are charming, I think. Here's a poem about curly hair.
This - below - is not the kind of story you'd find in a modern book. I think you should just about be able to read it - it's about Jessie, whose twin brother Philip catches measles, leaving her bored and with nothing to do. But Mother reproaches her, saying: "I would not cry so much, or you will melt away like the sugar princess on the cake." Suitably chastened, she trots off for a walk and comes back with a huge bunch of daisies and grass, which she puts into a pink mug and takes to Philip, who is "so pleased." (Really?) And that's it. Nothing like a nice little moral message.
But this is the one I know you're all going to love. It predicts our girl's future. Just in case you can't read it, here are the last two verses:
When I'm in the twenties,
I'll be like Sister Joe;
I'll wear the sweetest dresses
(and maybe, have a beau!).
I'll go out in the evening,
and wear my hair up high
And not a girl in all the town
shall be as good as I
When I'm in the thirties,
I'll be just like Mamma;
And, maybe, I'll be married
to a splendid big Papa.
I'll cook, and bake, and mend,
and mind, and grow a little fat
But Mother is so sweet and nice,
I'll not object to that.
Isn't it sweet? I think Dickens would have approved. It looks as if young Rowland enjoyed it: it's well-used, and he's coloured in some of the pictures and even drawn one of his own at the back, of a house with a hedge beside it with a gate. I love it!