Worcester [Mass.]: Edward Livermore, 1847. First Livermore edition of each title. 12mo, original gilt-stamped brown cloth, 72, 72 pages. Illus. Some spotting throughout; cloth somewhat spotted and faded and rubbed; a good, sound copy. Item #18104
Published here in the series “Uncle Thomas’ Stories for Good Children,” an early series from the Worcester publisher Livermore (who had the book printed by Merriam & Mirick in Greenfield, Mass.). The stories and poems are reprinted from English sources, and largely concern animals (Grimalkin is told as the first-person memoir of a cat) and include an unattributed appearance of Mary Howitt’s verses, “The Ball-Players” (usually collected as “The Song of the Ball-Players”) and here illustrated with cuts of children at games like cricket and an early version perhaps of town ball; the second title also includes the verses, “Lucy and Her Lamb,” six stanzas which begin, “Lucy had a little lamb, / Its fleece was white as snow, / And every where that Lucy went, / The lamb was sure to go . . .” Though one suspects that Lucy is but a rip-off of Sarah J. Hale’s “Mary’s Lamb” (first published over the initials S. J. H. in the September-October, 1830 number of Hale’s Juvenile Miscellany, vol. v, new series no 1 and collected in Hale’s Poems for Our Children, Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1830), the attribution of the verses to Hale had long been contested as belonging instead to John Roulstone, said to have been written in 1815—though it appears the preponderance of evidence points to Hale’s original composition dating from ca. 1829. The swapping out of Mary for Lucy has been bruited about in a few contemporary children’s songbooks as suggesting precedence over Mary and an earlier, English source for the verses, though Lucy seems to appear in readers only as far back as the 1840s. See Merle Johnson’s You Know These Lines!, pages 104-106 (establishing precedence for Hale) and a passing reference to Lucy in American Notes and Queries, May 11, 1889 (which includes a lengthy note from Horatio Hale, defending his mother’s authorship). OCLC notes five locations for this Livermore edition, which was reprinted on several subsequent occasions.