Stories Before 1850. 0190: Anon., The Orphan, or Tale of an Old Soldier
||The orphan, or tale of an old soldier; to which is added, The history of the pieman and his brother. With neat engravings
||No date (but c.1815?)
||Thomas Crabb, No.1, Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row, and 15, John Street, Blackfriars Road
||1 vol., 22pp.
||10.5 x 9 cm
||Frontispiece, title-page vignette plus five further wood-engravings
||Inscription above frontispiece: 'Anne Fanny Arnold'. Pages 15-22 missing and booklist currently missing from digitisation.
Images of all pages of this book
Other imprints from Thomas Crabb's publishing house bear dates ranging from 1813 to 1815, giving some idea of the likely publication date of The Orphan. Crabb was not known as a publisher of children's books, but The Orphan is fairly typical, both in its content and appearance, of early nineteenth century works for children.
The primary story is narrated by the eponymous orphan. It is a sad tale. Having lost his parents when he was very young, the narrator was mistreated by his employers so that he ran away to join the army. He was stationed on 'the coast of Africa' (apparently depicted on p.13), but while serving as a marine he was injured and his leg was amputated. He was discharged from the army, but once back in Britain he found himself unable to claim 'the Chelsea bounty' (i.e. alms from the Chelsea Hospital for old soldiers) because his leg had been lost while on board ship, but also unable to seek assistance from the Admiralty, because though he served on a ship, he was still a soldier, not navy personnel. His only alternative was to beg for his living, and to return to his native village (where he might legally receive poor relief). The Orphan, then, seems largely designed to awaken the solicitude and benevolence of his young readers, and to make them aware through this confessional narrative that not all beggars are impostors and therefore undeserving of charity.