A literary family heirloom
November 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
Nearly two weeks ago, my maternal grandmother died. Earlier today, my mother and her siblings met to divide the material property. Among the things my mother chose were several 19th century Bibles that both of my grandparents had inherited over the years from their ancestors. There was also one anthology, published in 1826, that my mother said I could have for my own. It is a leather-bound book, with only the spine still intact, called simply The English Reader. In its 252 pages are excerpts from classical, medieval, and early modern writers and poets, with each selection chosen to stimulate and benefit the reader’s intellectual and moral development.
This particular book was one of my grandfather’s ancestors. Here is the inscription he wrote to mark that this book was his. Notice the difference in handwriting from what we are accustomed to seeing in the early 21st century. Interesting spelling as well for some of the words.
When I hold this book, I think of my mother and grandmother telling me after my grandfather’s death that despite not liking fiction (he thought it was daft to read “a bunch of lies”), he was a lover of poetry. Perhaps he inherited that from his own grandparents and maybe they from this particular grandparent several generations before me. Maybe my own love of poetry runs in the family, or at least I’d like to think so. And yes, I will read this book and think on all of this and maybe there will be some intellectual and moral instruction for me as well.