Caroline Hewins' Memories of Reading Abbott's Lucy Books

I was discovered one Sunday afternoon reading Godey's Lady's Book which, although extremely mild and harmless, was thought in those days a little grown-up for a person of four and a half. The next day I was taken into town and made the proud owner of a copy of Jacob Abbott's "Lucy's Conversations," my first bound book, which I have to this day, with my name and the date in it. It is in this book that Lucy has croup in the night and the next morning is given a powder in jelly and a roasted apple that was cooked by hanging it in front of the fire from a string held by a flatiron on the mantelpiece.

The other Lucy books followed in due time, at intervals of a few months. Was there ever a more delightful journey than that which Lucy was invited to make to the seashore with her friend Marielle and Marielle's mother, the mysterious Lady Jane who "came from some foreign country"? How grand it was for the little girls to travel in a carriage, to have tea by themselves in Lady Jane's sister's library, waited on by a black serving man, and to look at drawers of curiosities, shells and minerals, and a picture in mosaic of a burning mountain, by way of entertainment! "Lucy in the Mountains" is not nearly as impressive or awe-inspiring; but the stay at the General's and his monthly inspection of everything in the house and farm buildings, ending with a round cake for every one of the children, lingers in my memory together with the "beautiful little apple pie" in "Lucy's Stories" and other food described with the detail which Jacob Abbott knew children love.

--Caroline M. Hewins, A Mid-Century Child and Her Books, Macmillan, 1926.

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Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her 19th-Century Girls' Series website; please do not use on other sites without permission.