steepholm: (Default)
One hundred and one years ago my curate great-grandfather preached a sermon in Esperanto at the church of Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, York, on the occasion of the British Esperanto Congress being held in the city. When I lived in York in the 1980s I often visited the church, loving the old box pews (as who couldn't?), but at that time I didn't know about Thomas Robinson Butler's performance. Yesterday, however, in the wake of a conference organised by the talented and delightful Clementine Beauvais, I visited with her and Maria Nikolajeva, and photographed what was, I assume, the very pulpit:

IMG_20170506_140153

Meanwhile, here are Clementine (l) and Maria (r), as seen through the church's hagioscope:

IMG_20170506_140138

Tonight I'm staying with Farah and Edward in Stoke-on-Trent, which really ought to be the occasion to visit the Esperanto Association's Butler Library, named after Thomas's son, my grandfather and housed at nearby Barlaston. But, alas, Wolverhampton calls and I must take the morning train. Bonan nokton, ĉiuj!
steepholm: (Default)
I put a few pictures from my great-great-aunt Fanny Jane Butler's Bible book up here some years ago, but they were very blurry. Now I have a slightly more reliable camera (albeit still low quality) I'm putting up a few more. The catalyst for this is someone's writing about Fanny on-line in her capacity as a medical missionary and one of the first (if not the first) qualified female doctors to work in India - where she died, aged 39, having founded a hospital that survives to this day. I keep meaning to blog the little book that her niece Emma Tonge wrote about her, but that will have to wait a bit longer.

These are just a fraction of the total, but they give a flavour. Fanny was born in 1850, and it's anyone's guess as to how old she was when she made this scrapbook, but it seems like the production of a child to me, albeit not a young one, so I'm guessing the early 1860s. The colours have lasted very well, to say nothing of the feathers, flowers, leaves, hair, etc. Indeed, the long golden tresses seem almost too good to be true. Was there some other substance than hair that she might have used at that date?Bible Scrapbook )
steepholm: (tree_face)
I put a few pictures from my great-great-aunt Fanny Jane Butler's Bible book up here some years ago, but they were very blurry. Now I have a slightly more reliable camera (albeit still low quality) I'm putting up a few more. The catalyst for this is someone's writing about Fanny on-line in her capacity as a medical missionary and one of the first (if not the first) qualified female doctors to work in India - where she died, aged 39, having founded a hospital that survives to this day. I keep meaning to blog the little book that her niece Emma Tonge wrote about her, but that will have to wait a bit longer.

These are just a fraction of the total, but they give a flavour. Fanny was born in 1850, and it's anyone's guess as to how old she was when she made this scrapbook, but it seems like the production of a child to me, albeit not a young one, so I'm guessing the early 1860s. The colours have lasted very well, to say nothing of the feathers, flowers, leaves, hair, etc. Indeed, the long golden tresses seem almost too good to be true. Was there some other substance than hair that she might have used at that date? Bible Scrapbook )
steepholm: (tree_face)
I got back from my mother's just in time today to attend the unveiling of a blue plaque to the Conscientious Objector Walter Ayles, just round the corner from my house. He was arrested (I think they said) 100 years ago today, for leafleting against conscription. As someone whose own grandfather was jailed as a CO (unlike his brother Guido, who was exempted in March 1916, less than a fortnight after conscription came into force), I had a natural interest - but it was an impressive crowd in any case. There must have been 100 people standing in Station Road, listening to speeches. They included a choir in period dress, but the whole thing felt like a bit of a time warp, of the good kind.

"I do not believe that hate can destroy hate. I believe that hate can only be transformed by love. That is the deepest and most practical religion I know." (Ayles's statement to the tribunal that jailed him.)
steepholm: (Default)
I got back from my mother's just in time today to attend the unveiling of a blue plaque to the Conscientious Objector Walter Ayles, just round the corner from my house. He was arrested (I think they said) 100 years ago today, for leafleting against conscription. As someone whose own grandfather was jailed as a CO (unlike his brother Guido, who was exempted in March 1916, less than a fortnight after conscription came into force), I had a natural interest - but it was an impressive crowd in any case. There must have been 100 people standing in Station Road, listening to speeches. They included a choir in period dress, but the whole thing felt like a bit of a time warp, of the good kind.

"I do not believe that hate can destroy hate. I believe that hate can only be transformed by love. That is the deepest and most practical religion I know." (Ayles's statement to the tribunal that jailed him.)
steepholm: (Default)
The other night I watched quite an interesting documentary on Kipling's time in Lahore with my mother [ETA I watched with my mother; Kipling wasn't with her in Lahore], which got her to thinking that she had never actually read Plain Tales from the Hills, despite owning a copy for the past fifty years. I was duly sent to fetch the book - an early twentieth-century edition, one of those with a little swastika on the spine. (These are sad days for lovers of that ancient symbol: apparently Japan's tourist board is dropping its use as a sign for Buddhist temples, because it's so often misconstrued.) Anyway, the book had a 1919 dedication to "Cady" (pronounced "Caddy") - which my mother explained had been the nickname of her own mother, Evelyn Cadman (b. 1900), when she taught at a school in Kent as a young woman. I had no idea she was ever a teacher, let alone in Kent, or that Cady was ever her nickname. So I'm jotting it down here, lest I forget. The whole dedication had a wonderfully Angel Brazilian quality, actually.

With the same motives - and not because it's intrinsically fascinating or important, here is the story of how my maternal grandparents met - which I had also never known till now. For completists only. )

Anyway, I was given Cadman as a middle name, and my parents often stressed that, as well as being my grandmother's maiden name, it was the name of the first (named) English poet - the inspired cowherd Caedmon, whose story is told by the Venerable Bede. I grew up thinking of Caedmon as a close cousin. Though the spelling was a bit off I put that down to the atrocious orthography of Olden Times. More troubling was the fact that Bede's man was from Whitby, while pretty much all the Cadmans in the world hailed from Wellington in Shropshire. (Here's their distribution in 1881, not so long after Evelyn's own parents were born - both Wellingtonians called Cadman, but no relation, as far as they could tell.)

It was all a bit tenuous, in truth; but it may have had some effect in persuading me to consider myself potentially a writer. As for famous Cadmans, I may have to content myself with Eveylyn's Uncle Sam, whose visits from being a radio preacher in America caused such a fluster in my mother's childhood home. Whether Uncle Sam would have been content with me is a much more open question.
steepholm: (tree_face)
The other night I watched quite an interesting documentary on Kipling's time in Lahore with my mother [ETA I watched with my mother; Kipling wasn't with her in Lahore], which got her to thinking that she had never actually read Plain Tales from the Hills, despite owning a copy for the past fifty years. I was duly sent to fetch the book - an early twentieth-century edition, one of those with a little swastika on the spine. (These are sad days for lovers of that ancient symbol: apparently Japan's tourist board is dropping its use as a sign for Buddhist temples, because it's so often misconstrued.) Anyway, the book had a 1919 dedication to "Cady" (pronounced "Caddy") - which my mother explained had been the nickname of her own mother, Evelyn Cadman (b. 1900), when she taught at a school in Kent as a young woman. I had no idea she was ever a teacher, let alone in Kent, or that Cady was ever her nickname. So I'm jotting it down here, lest I forget. The whole dedication had a wonderfully Angel Brazilian quality, actually.

With the same motives - and not because it's intrinsically fascinating or important, here is the story of how my maternal grandparents met - which I had also never known till now. For completists only. )

Anyway, I was given Cadman as a middle name, and my parents often stressed that, as well as being my grandmother's maiden name, it was that of the first (named) English poet - the inspired cowherd Caedmon, whose story is told by the Venerable Bede. I grew up thinking of Caedmon as a close cousin. Though the spelling was a bit off I put that down to the atrocious orthography of Olden Times. More troubling was the fact that Bede's man was from Whitby, while pretty much all the Cadmans in the world hailed from Wellington in Shropshire. (Here's their distribution in 1881, not so long after Evelyn's own parents were born - both Wellingtonians called Cadman, but no relation, as far as they could tell.)

It was all a bit tenuous, in truth; but it may have had some effect in persuading me to consider myself potentially a writer. As for famous Cadmans, I may have to content myself with Evelyn's Uncle Sam, whose visits from being a radio preacher in America caused such a fluster in my mother's childhood home. Whether Uncle Sam would have been content with me is a much more open question.
steepholm: (Default)
I've written here a couple times about my great*4 grandfather Weeden Butler's correspondence with the American planter and Constitutional Convention delegate for South Carolina, Pierce "no relation" Butler, whose son was a pupil at Weeden's Cheyne Walk school in the 1780s. They wrote to each other over a long period, and much of the correspondence is collected in When the States Were Young, which I've read, though it's a slightly frustrating volume for me as it concentrates very much on Pierce's half and I'm more interested in what was going on in London. Anyway, somehow I'd nevertheless managed to miss the fact that in October 1787, having just signed off the Constitution of the United States, Pierce wrote to Weeden:

"a Copy of the result of Our deliberations ... is not worth the expence of postage, or I wou'd now Enclose it to you".

Which is how my family came not to own a contemporary copy of the US Constitution, and is a nice insight into what Very Important Events can look like close up.

Tangentially, the whole page I linked to above is quite interesting on Pierce's involvement with slavery, which he probably felt obliged to justify given that Weeden's was a very much an abolitionist family. The way he tells it, he'd like nothing better than to get rid of his slaves, but they just won't go, knowing that they'd be worse off on their own. (It doesn't seem to occur to him that he could not only free them but give - or rather, pay - them some land/money so that they could be independent.) I feel a little cynical on the point, since it was Pierce Butler who introduced the Fugitive Slave Clause to the Constitution, which doesn't seem like the act of an abolitionist manqué, however keen the folks back in SC may have been on it. I wonder though whether it was a figure such as Pierce described himself as being whom Weeden's son (also Weeden) had in mind when he portrayed the "good" slave owner Wilmot in Zimao the African (1800). Sadly, none of them is around to ask.
steepholm: (tree_face)
I've written here a couple times about my great*4 grandfather Weeden Butler's correspondence with the American planter and Constitutional Convention delegate for South Carolina, Pierce "no relation" Butler, whose son was a pupil at Weeden's Cheyne Walk school in the 1780s. They wrote to each other over a long period, and much of the correspondence is collected in When the States Were Young, which I've read, though it's a slightly frustrating volume for me as it concentrates very much on Pierce's half and I'm more interested in what was going on in London. Anyway, somehow I'd nevertheless managed to miss the fact that in October 1787, having just signed off the Constitution of the United States, Pierce wrote to Weeden:

"a Copy of the result of Our deliberations ... is not worth the expence of postage, or I wou'd now Enclose it to you".

Which is how my family came not to own a contemporary copy of the US Constitution, and is a nice insight into what Very Important Events can look like close up.

Tangentially, the whole page I linked to above is quite interesting on Pierce's involvement with slavery, which he probably felt obliged to justify given that Weeden's was a very much an abolitionist family. The way he tells it, he'd like nothing better than to get rid of his slaves, but they just won't go, knowing that they'd be worse off on their own. (It doesn't seem to occur to him that he could not only free them but give - or rather, pay - them some land/money so that they could be independent.) I feel a little cynical on the point, since it was Pierce Butler who introduced the Fugitive Slave Clause to the Constitution, which doesn't seem like the act of an abolitionist manqué, however keen the folks back in SC may have been on it. I wonder though whether it was a figure such as Pierce described himself as being whom Weeden's son (also Weeden) had in mind when he portrayed the "good" slave owner Wilmot in Zimao the African (1800). Sadly, none of them is around to ask.
steepholm: (tree_face)
My mother's maiden name was Isobel Bowman, not a particularly common one (in that spelling). So she was rather taken aback today to be told by a friend of the existence of a film titled Stolen: the Mysterious Disappearance of Isobel Bowman (2010). Here's the trailer...



It's about right for period, too, and the grandfather's mysterious memoirs are of course intriguing - but where can I find the film for which this is but a tantalising teaser? IMDb tells me little other than that it is written and directed by one "David Thring", an obvious pseudonym, not to say anagram. It works out as:

"Dr Night - a vid..."
steepholm: (Default)
My mother's maiden name was Isobel Bowman, not a particularly common one (in that spelling). So she was rather taken aback today to be told by a friend of the existence of a film titled Stolen: the Mysterious Disappearance of Isobel Bowman (2010). Here's the trailer...



It's about right for period, too, and the grandfather's mysterious memoirs are of course intriguing - but where can I find the film for which this is but a tantalising teaser? IMDb tells me little other than that it is written and directed by one "David Thring", an obvious pseudonym, not to say anagram. It works out as:

"Dr Night - a vid..."
steepholm: (Default)
bm0004

What is this beautiful, flowing calligraphic script, I hear you ask? Perhaps you are murmuring in self-reply, "It looks like shorthand - but it's not like any shorthand I've ever learned." If so, have a cookie.

The thing is... )
steepholm: (tree_face)
bm0004

What is this beautiful, flowing calligraphic script, I hear you ask? Perhaps you are murmuring in self-reply, "It looks like shorthand - but it's not like any shorthand I've ever learned." If so, have a cookie.

The thing is... )
steepholm: (tree_face)
As I mentioned here some time back, my mother has a number of letters from Philip Larkin, dating from the mid-forties (when he was engaged to her cousin Ruth) to a few years before his death. With the Larkin Estate's permission I wrote them up as a short general article, but failed to excite the interest of the TLS, LRB or other likely journals, so now I've just uploaded it to Academia.edu - for your reading pleasure, and the record.
steepholm: (Default)
As I mentioned here some time back, my mother has a number of letters from Philip Larkin, dating from the mid-forties (when he was engaged to her cousin Ruth) to a few years before his death. With the Larkin Estate's permission I wrote them up as a short general article, but failed to excite the interest of the TLS, LRB or other likely journals, so now I've just uploaded it to Academia.edu - for your reading pleasure, and the record.
steepholm: (tree_face)
I don't know whether my move to Cardiff was a catalyst, but my mother's Welshness (very much sotto voce during my childhood) has found increasingly resonant voice recently. The other day she surprised me by singing the Welsh national anthem (in Welsh) - perfectly, as far as I was able to judge. I'd never heard her do that at any time in the previous half century.

Perhaps it's only natural that she thinks about her childhood, and wants to pass on what she can of it. A couple of days ago she said, apropos of nothing, "Whenever my father served Fray Bentos corned beef from a tin, he would always say, 'Have a slice of Harriet Lane.'" Apparently Harriet Lane had been a murder victim, and referring to tinned meat in this way was a piece of naval slang my grandfather had picked up in the navy at the start of the twentieth century.

"But hang on," said I. "I heard exactly the same story about Fanny Adams. Can they both have been dismembered murder victims whose remains were made the basis of a grim joke about navy rations? It doesn't seem very likely."

However, it turns out to be true. Seven years after young Fanny Adams was butchered in a Hampshire field in 1867, Harriet Lane was murdered and cut into "manageable pieces" by her lover (and father of her children) in Mile End. I don't know whether Harriet and Fanny's names coexisted in the Navy, perhaps in different services (my grandfather was in the merchant navy before WWI), or whether it was a case of Fanny's being supplanted by a later victim. It's odd, though, in a grisly way.


Later the same evening she asked, "What's all this about Germaine Greer? I watched her on Newsnight last night and she looked quite mad."

I explained about Greer's history in this regard, and for my mother's education and amusement read her this choice quotation from The Whole Woman, which shows Greer at the aphelion of her eccentric orbit of rationality:

"There is a witness to the transsexual's script, a witness who is never consulted. She is the person who built the transsexual's body of her own flesh and brought it up as her son or daughter, the transsexual's worst enemy, his/her mother. Whatever else it is gender reassignment is an exorcism of the mother. When a man decides to spend his life impersonating his mother (like Norman Bates in Psycho) it is as if he murders her and gets away with it, proving at a stroke that there was nothing to her."


"What a dumbass!" said my mother. (Actually, that wasn't the word she used, but I'm translating it into American for reasons of decency.) She laughed like a crone, and I like a crone-in-training. And of course the situation does have its absurd aspect, especially when you see someone like that invited to give a distinguished lecture on 'Women and Power' at one's own university - an institution that boasts of itself as a safe and welcoming place for LGBT+ staff and students that will "in no way condone discriminatory comments of any kind”.

And then you read about Tara Hudson, the 26-year old transgender woman who has just been sent to an all-male prison less than a mile from my house. And you remember that Greer's "You're really a man" poison has real effects on real, vulnerable people.
steepholm: (Default)
I don't know whether my move to Cardiff was a catalyst, but my mother's Welshness (very much sotto voce during my childhood) has found increasingly resonant voice recently. The other day she surprised me by singing the Welsh national anthem (in Welsh) - perfectly, as far as I was able to judge. I'd never heard her do that at any time in the previous half century.

Perhaps it's only natural that she thinks about her childhood, and wants to pass on what she can of it. A couple of days ago she said, apropos of nothing, "Whenever my father served Fray Bentos corned beef from a tin, he would always say, 'Have a slice of Harriet Lane.'" Apparently Harriet Lane had been a murder victim, and referring to tinned meat in this way was a piece of naval slang my grandfather had picked up in the navy at the start of the twentieth century.

"But hang on," said I. "I heard exactly the same story about Fanny Adams. Can they both have been dismembered murder victims whose remains were made the basis of a grim joke about navy rations? It doesn't seem very likely."

However, it turns out to be true. Seven years after young Fanny Adams was butchered in a Hampshire field in 1867, Harriet Lane was murdered and cut into "manageable pieces" by her lover (and father of her children) in Mile End. I don't know whether Harriet and Fanny's names coexisted in the Navy, perhaps in different services (my grandfather was in the merchant navy before WWI), or whether it was a case of Fanny's being supplanted by a later victim. It's odd, though, in a grisly way.


Later the same evening she asked, "What's all this about Germaine Greer? I watched her on Newsnight last night and she looked quite mad."

I explained about Greer's history in this regard, and for my mother's education and amusement read her this choice quotation from The Whole Woman, which shows Greer at the aphelion of her eccentric orbit of rationality:

"There is a witness to the transsexual's script, a witness who is never consulted. She is the person who built the transsexual's body of her own flesh and brought it up as her son or daughter, the transsexual's worst enemy, his/her mother. Whatever else it is gender reassignment is an exorcism of the mother. When a man decides to spend his life impersonating his mother (like Norman Bates in Psycho) it is as if he murders her and gets away with it, proving at a stroke that there was nothing to her."


"What a dumbass!" said my mother. (Actually, that wasn't the word she used, but I'm translating it into American for reasons of decency.) She laughed like a crone, and I like a crone-in-training. And of course the situation does have its absurd aspect, especially when you see someone like that invited to give a distinguished lecture on 'Women and Power' at one's own university - an institution that boasts of itself as a safe and welcoming place for LGBT+ staff and students that will "in no way condone discriminatory comments of any kind”.

And then you read about Tara Hudson, the 26-year old transgender woman who has just been sent to an all-male prison less than a mile from my house. And you remember that Greer's "You're really a man" poison has real effects on real, vulnerable people.
steepholm: (Default)
It would have been particularly shaming for me to have discovered that my ancestors were amongst the slave-owners compensated by the British government on the abolition of slavery in 1833, especially when some of them at least had been so vocal in the abolitionist movement.

I was relatively confident in their integrity, but not entirely: after all, they certainly knew and corresponded with slavers, such as Pierce Butler (no relation), who sent his son to my great*4 grandfather's school in Chelsea and was visited in America by said ancestor's own son. Moreover, they were just the right class to have had a few "field workers" labouring sight unseen on some Antiguan plantation. People are pretty susceptible to long-distance hypocrisy: it's not as if most of us in the West are unaccustomed to live relatively well off the back of cheap foreign labour even today. So it was with some trepidation that I checked the compensation database (which I recommend generally, by the way - it's a fascinating site).

Luckily it gave me the all clear. I feel very relieved, which is a little strange in itself, but a measure I suppose of how invested I am in this eccentric but mostly harmless - indeed, often benevolent - crew, whose deeds have occasionally enlivened this journal.
steepholm: (Default)
When Annie Robina Buter wrote her 1907 memoir of her father Thomas (my great-great-grandfather), she reflected regretfully on the fact that, following his own father's succumbing to severe depression and the consequent decline of his school in Cheyne Walk, Thomas was unable to attend University. Nevertheless, she remarks, "One must not be too sorry:

'God has a plan
For every man.'"



For some reason, those lines popped into my head the other day. They sounded familiar, and were clearly so to Annie Robina, but what she was quoting? Several places on the Internet refer to it as an old saying, but as far as I can discover the source appears to be a really rather bad poem called "The Cripple Boy", which was in circulation in Sunday schools by the 1880s. I can't find a definitive version, but I've put together the following from the various fragments and retellings floating round the Internet:

Poem under the cut )

The tl;dr version is that the "cripple boy" of the title feels himself to be a burden to his poor widowed mother (it doesn't help that they live in a hut at the top of a steep mountain track), and wonders what the point of his existence is, but is assured by her that "God has a plan for every man/ And he has one for you". Eventually he is able to thwart an attack on his country by lighting a warning beacon - an endeavour that simultaneously validates his existence and costs him his life. So, perhaps Annie Robina (a sometime Sunday school teacher) was quoting that directly - and since she sets the phrase out as verse this poem does seem the most likely source. I don't know the name of its author nor the date of composition, but the story it tells, now narrowed down the Tyrol (with the French cast in the role of enemy - suggesting a Napoleonic setting), is already being recounted as a familiar one in Ontario by 1866.

So, the story was well known, and the poem was also well known in the kind of circles Annie Robina moved in. No mystery, really; nevertheless, I couldn't resist buying a copy of this (it was very cheap!):

Epson_30122014101605Epson_30122014101742

No, it's not the slightly-less-violent sequel to Kill Bill, but an 1899 temperance novel about a poor lame boy who grows up hardworking and devout, having been inspired by hearing "The Cripple Boy" recited at a Band of Hope meeting. Eventually, his good qualities result in the reform of his drunken and abusive father and his whole family, who become prosperous and useful members of society. It's pretty standard temperance stuff, though I admit I eeped a bit at these lines of dialogue, in which our hero is being quizzed by his elder brother about his treatment at the hands of grammar school boys:

"Have they been kind?" asked Tom.
"They laughed at me, and called me 'Crutchy', but they didn't mean to be unkind."


The author, John William Kneeshaw, is identified by various sellers on Abebooks as a Labour politiican from Birmingham and pacifist during WWI (you can read about him here). However, this site claims as author another John William Kneeshaw, a sometime headmaster from Burnley with a fondness for the cane. Internal evidence suggests the latter to me: aside from the title-page attribution of "A Weaver Lass" as one of his other works (a more Lancastrian title is hard to imagine), this isn't a Socialist book by any means, but one in which middle-class people such as doctors and priests intervene benignly in the lives of the poor to save them from themselves. Though, I suppose one might argue that that's actually not a bad description of Karl Marx.
steepholm: (tree_face)
When Annie Robina Buter wrote her 1907 memoir of her father Thomas (my great-great-grandfather), she reflected regretfully on the fact that, following his own father's succumbing to severe depression and the consequent decline of his school in Cheyne Walk, Thomas was unable to attend University. Nevertheless, she remarks, "One must not be too sorry:

'God has a plan
For every man.'"



For some reason, those lines popped into my head the other day. They sounded familiar, and were clearly so to Annie Robina, but what she was quoting? Several places on the Internet refer to it as an old saying, but as far as I can discover the source appears to be a really rather bad poem called "The Cripple Boy", which was in circulation in Sunday schools by the 1880s. I can't find a definitive version, but I've put together the following from the various fragments and retellings floating round the Internet:

Poem under the cut )

The tl;dr version is that the "cripple boy" of the title feels himself to be a burden to his poor widowed mother (it doesn't help that they live in a hut at the top of a steep mountain track), and wonders what the point of his existence is, but is assured by her that "God has a plan for every man/ And he has one for you". Eventually he is able to thwart an attack on his country by lighting a warning beacon - an endeavour that simultaneously validates his existence and costs him his life. So, perhaps Annie Robina (a sometime Sunday school teacher) was quoting that directly - and since she sets the phrase out as verse this poem does seem the most likely source. I don't know the name of its author nor the date of composition, but the story it tells, now narrowed down the Tyrol (with the French cast in the role of enemy - suggesting a Napoleonic setting), is already being recounted as a familiar one in Ontario by 1866.

So, the story was well known, and the poem was also well known in the kind of circles Annie Robina moved in. No mystery, really; nevertheless, I couldn't resist buying a copy of this (it was very cheap!):

Epson_30122014101605Epson_30122014101742

No, it's not the slightly-less-violent sequel to Kill Bill, but an 1899 temperance novel about a poor lame boy who grows up hardworking and devout, having been inspired by hearing "The Cripple Boy" recited at a Band of Hope meeting. Eventually, his good qualities result in the reform of his drunken and abusive father and his whole family, who become prosperous and useful members of society. It's pretty standard temperance stuff, though I admit I eeped a bit at these lines of dialogue, in which our hero is being quizzed by his elder brother about his treatment at the hands of grammar school boys:

"Have they been kind?" asked Tom.
"They laughed at me, and called me 'Crutchy', but they didn't mean to be unkind."


The author, John William Kneeshaw, is identified by various sellers on Abebooks as a Labour politiican from Birmingham and pacifist during WWI (you can read about him here). However, this site claims as author another John William Kneeshaw, a sometime headmaster from Burnley with a fondness for the cane. Internal evidence suggests the latter to me: aside from the title-page attribution of "A Weaver Lass" as one of his other works (a more Lancastrian title is hard to imagine), this isn't a Socialist book by any means, but one in which middle-class people such as doctors and priests intervene benignly in the lives of the poor to save them from themselves. Though, I suppose one might argue that that's actually not a bad description of Karl Marx.

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