Greenmanville and Mystic, Connecticut: 1859-1861. Beautiful and ornate blue cloth binding stamped in gilt, orange, blue, and green to spine and front board; stamped in blind to rear. All edges gilt. Measuring 5.5 x 7". Comprised of 23 manuscript pages in a variety of hands, from a group of young people in the Connecticut towns of Greenmanville and Mystic. Compiled on behalf of a young woman named Jennie ("Jane," to her cousin), the present volume gives insight to the interests and ideas shaping a group of men and women in a traditionally abolitionist region, as the U.S. moved toward Civil War.
This lovely and well-preserved friendship album does not possess the ownership signature typical of manuscripts like it; so the full identity of its owner, Jennie, remains obscured. But the book's opening does reveal other things about its owner and her friends. "This book goes forth to gather Souvenirs from friends...Go then! Yet count no one thy friend but whose thoughts are pure and words are sincere offerings of the soul," declares the Dedication written in by E.S. Stanley -- Edwin Samuel Stanley, Methodist preacher from the region who was a known Free-Soiler and abolitionist. Possibly the group's clergyman, a number of other Stanley family members also contribute to the book. "Though in a world of moral night, As thou hast found the Gospel light, Awake to life. Let truth thy soul with rapture fill Effect a cure of nature's ill, Through patient strife," writes L.C. Stanley in an early entry. Marietta Stanley meanwhile writes in a more standard inscription, "Rest on this tribute, think of me-- Think kindly, as I shall of thee."
Some entries give us a glimpse at Jennie herself. "Bright and sunny is thy smile, Pensive, sweet thy sadder hours. Sparkling are thy hazel eyes As the dew drops on the flowers..." writes M.E. Kellogg, with a hope that she never changes. Some reveal a cheeky level of intimacy among friends, as does the note from Edwin French: "Album of Love in this I am to write, A married man! Oh what an awful plight. But if sweet Cupid may not me inspire Let friendship vows light this vestal fire." Yet others give a sense of impending war, as young men increasingly write poems of farewell. "Farewell! It hath a sombre tone," Charlie Williams begins a poem in 1861. And in 1860 William Cook reflects that "Longing for the absent, there is a spell comes over the soul."
A unique piece with research potential including but not limited to the exchange of activist ideas in literature, genealogy, paleography, gender studies, the role of Methodism in abolitionist communities. (Item #3367)