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Stories Before 1850. 0258: Sarah S. Wilkinson, The Adventures of a Bible

Author: Wilkinson, Sarah S.
Title: The Adventures of a Bible, or, the Advantages of Early Piety by Sarah S. Wilkinson
Cat. Number: 0258
Date: No date (but inscription from 1838)
1st Edition:
Pub. Place: London
Publisher: Dean & Munday
Price: 2d
Pages: 1 vol., 30pp.
Size: 12.5 x 9.5 cm
Illustrations: Engraved frontispiece and title-page vignette
Note: MS. inscription by Anne Fanny Arnold dated 2 February 1838

Images of all pages of this book

Page 003 of item 0258

Introductory essay

On the surface, The Adventures of a Bible is a book designed to encourage the poor to love and cherish the bible. It tells briefly of each possessor of a bible which had been given, at the beginning of the book, to Henry Brown, a poor but promising boy. He had earned the gift of the book by his natural cheerfulness and he is soon further favoured by being taken to London to be a servant. Within a sentence of his arrival there he has died, however, and the bible passed onto a friend of his. This boy drops the book, and it is picked up by a poor woman who, when she inherits some money of her own, passes the bible onto a little girl who was ' too fond of the street'. She scorns the bible, until her mother punishes her by shutting her up for three days in her room. For want of anything else to do, she begins to read the bible and is instantly transformed into a well-behaved girl who eschews the habits learned on the street - lying, swearing, and being undutiful to parents. Insteand, she begins to save her money and she is soon able to afford her own bible, so she passes the original book onto a poor man in the street. His story forms the central episode of the book, depicted in the frontispiece. He has sunk so low that he is forced to ask for charity in the street. A passing gentleman asks him why he does not sell his bible so that he might buy some food. The man replies that he cannot bring himself to do so. It provides him with all the comfort he has left, and it would seem a kind of sin, he says, to sell it. These sentiments endear the poor man to the gentleman, who was only testing him with his question. After having told the sad history of his descent into poverty, the poor man is given money to live, and then an easy job, opening the gates of the gentleman's country lodge so that he will not love 'on actual charity' which must always be 'galling to an honest active mind.' In his new post, the poor man's health improves and he lives happily. The lesson is straightforward. If you treasure your bible, you will receive a reward, even in the temporal world. 'Remember thy Redeemer in the days of your youth,' as the text puts it, 'and in your old age he will not forsake you.' But beyond this, The Adventures of a Bible also serves to encourage the affluent to provide the economic inferiors with bibles, as Mr and Mrs Moore had done at the beginning of the narrative. This was the best way, the book insists, not only to ensure the piety, honesty, morality and meekness of spirit of the poor (all of which are noticed at some point in the book), but also their economic well-being.