I have an antique book called Joyous Times. It is a children’s book full of poems and stories (and pictures! ) for Victorian era children to enjoy. It was printed and bound by M. A. Donohue at 407-429 Dearborn Street, Chicago. It was published very early 1900s (probably 1904) because the inscription says in pencil ‘Charles E. Roach from Grandpa Dec 25, 1904’. This book is from the Holiday Series, as indicated on the bottom right corner of the cover.
My copy is very well-loved and dirty, the front cover has fallen off. I keep it in a plastic bag because it is so crumbly! I received it as a Christmas gift exactly 100 years after the inscription was written! I thought that was really cool.
Most children’s stories of that era were written to teach children how to behave. This first poem is about getting along with your siblings.
Little Bell and toddling May,
Slyly have they crept away, And found aunty’s “gay guitar.”
Happy Bell! I hear her say,
“Hark now, May! and Bell will play
‘Twinkle, twinkle little star.'”
So Bell sounds the twanging strings:
“Twinkle, twinkle,” loud she sings;
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star;
How I wonder what you are!”
“Now, May, listen!” May’s eyes glisten:
“How I wonder what you are!”
May thinks of the old guitar.
Chubby hands has baby May,
Mischief-hands, the livelong day;
Now she thinks ’tis time that she
Should take part in all the glee.
“Me, too, sister: let me play!”
And does Bell unkindly tell
Little pet to go away?
No: she says, “We’ll play together
‘Yankee doodle with his feather,’
Or ‘The three blind mice a-running.’
You may play, you baby cunning!”
And when aunty, who is coming,
Hears the tinkling, singing, thrumming,
‘Tis not music– yet to see
How the little maids agree.
“Ah!” she says, “such loving ways
Sweeter are than harmony.”
This second offering is a little story about…
How Little Johnny Lost His Supper
My little friend Johnny had a cat, of which was quite fond. The name of this cat was Vel’vet. Johnny gave her that name because her fur was smooth as velvet. She would let him take her in his lap; and, when he went out-of-doors, she would fol’low him like a dog.
Johnny was a good boy most of the time; but, in the room where he took his meals, a rod hung from the wall. it was put there just to help him to bear in mind that there was such a thing as a rod, and that it was kept for the backs of bad boys.
But it must be said, that the rod was more for show than for use; for though Johnny was three years old, nei’ther his fa’ther nor his moth’er had ev’er thought it wise to pun’ish him by whip’ping. I think they were right, — do not you?
When Johnny failed to mind his moth’er, she would pun’ish him by hav’ing him take his meals all by him-self. He did not like this; for he want’ed to sit at the ta’ble with the grown folks, and hear what they had to say.
His moth’er had told him that he must not play with his ball in the par’lor. One day he for’got what she had told him, and threw his ball so as to break a pane of glass. He did not try to hide what he had done; and in this he was right. He went to his moth’er, and said, “Moth’er, I broke a pane of glass with my ball.”
“Then, Johnny, you must take your bread and milk all by your-self,” said his moth’er; “for I told you, if you did not o-bey, I should have to pun’ish you; and I must keep my word. But, since you told me the truth like a good boy, I will kiss you be-fore you go.”
So his moth’er gave him a kiss; and off Johnny went with his bowl of bread and milk, to take his sup’per all by him-self. It was a hot day; and, in the room where Johnny sat, one of the win’dows was open.
“I do not like to take my bread and milk all alone,” thought Johnny. “How nice it would be to have some one here to play with me, and to share my supper, be-fore I go to bed! I will wait, and see if Velvet will not come.”
So Johnny wait’ed, as he sat in his chair; but soon he began to nod, and at last he fell a-sleep. No soon’er was he a-sleep than Velvet jumped in at the win’dow.
“Milk fresh from the cow,” thought Velvet, as she went and smelt of Johnny’s bowl. “Since Johnny does not seem to care for his supper, I will eat it up for him.”
It did not take Velvet long to eat up all the bread and milk in the bowl. When Johnny woke up, he found the bowl as clean as if it had been washed and wiped dry.
Velvet sat on the floor as calm as if she had never stolen a drop of milk in her life. Johnny did not scold her; for he was glad to see the old cat, and he knew that his mother would give him some more milk.
When his mother learnt that Velvet had eaten up Johnny’s supper, she laughed, and filled his bowl once more. He had it all to him-self this time, for the old cat had taken enough to last her till morn’ing.
I think that since these little stories are public domain, I will reproduce them all here. They are a curiosity that need to see the light of day once again!
Tell us what you think of these little stories in the comments!