Logo: A Beautiful Miniature Book
On occasion, the line between total shipwreck with the loss of all hands, and being saved, is so fine as to be almost indistinguishable. As for ships, so for books and their owners.
This happened recently with a batch of extremely distressed volumes. Although clearly old and largely of a religious nature, the first reaction was to reject...but, wait a minute, one was heavily annotated in a difficult hand (see below), so, the lot was bought in and several weeks later the volume was retrieved for closer inspection.
In the composite image below we have the first entry.... (centre)....
“Behaviour Prize. Presented to Miss Hatch by Miss Matthews. Barnsbury Park. Mids. 2.1.1852”.
[The copy must have been printed in 1851, even though the Introduction states March 1852].
“It was in 1834 that I called upon this lady and in 1854 I left her one of my calling cards. I did not see her on this last occasion, but no doubt time with her, as with me, has done his work. 5 Jan 1855”.
[This must refer to the Governess Miss Matthews, as Miss Hatch was then a child].
The next entry reads (lower imsge below, top two lines)....
The Gift of his daughter
The last time I saw her was Sunday Evening 23rd October 1853”.
“Homerton. 21st December 1854. How very curiously things often come about! This book was given to a Miss Hatch in 1852 by her Governess Miss Matthews of Barnsbury Park. Mr Stephen a colleague of mine taught drawing at that school and on the breaking up of the service in 1834 offered me the engagement. I called upon Miss Matthews though I did not succeed in getting it, but for what reason I do not now remember. Miss Hatch gave the book to Bessie (I cannot write her name without painful feelings) who gave it to me on Sunday night 23rd October 1853. It was the last time I saw her. Alas poor Bessie!”
Child of my early love! Thy wayward course
Saddens my heart. Thou'rt to me a source
of ceaseless grief.
Eight years have rolled on, since I saw that face
Or heard ought of thy movements, time or place
To give relief.
The full outpouring of a troubled mind
That lov'd impression thou has left behind
I would express.
Alas! There's nothing else now left to me
What'eer thou are, my love still follows thee
Yet not the less.
My fond remembrance recalls that time
Where pure, and lovely, thou were truly mine,
That time's o'er!
My solitary way then, still I'll keep,
And hope, and love, till in the dust I sleep
To grieve no more. R.H.
Well…what does one make of all this….?
All we know is Bessie unexpectedly walks out on her father Richard Hawkins on the evening of October 23rd 1853, but for what actual reason we shall never fathom.
But, why give her Father a copy of “A Tour to the Hebrides”…as a parting shot?
The book clearly had great significance to both of them, as the text block is covered in his annotations.
By 1862 he’s near the end (see Vs. 5 & 6 in the final poem above) yet still filled with remorse for causing the parting of the ways. [P.S. We now find his death is recorded in Shoreditch, and in 1863].
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