Much has been written about the different perception of things on the part of men and women. (You know: “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”!) I started pondering about it when I was thinking over the topic of my column. I decided to choose the article “Little Pretty Pocket Book” written by D. Wright. There was a link attached to the article and I followed it. So I read extracts from the book for Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly. David has chosen the topic connected with sport and games which are introduced in the book, but what drew my attention was the question of upbringing. The Little Pretty Pocket Book is a well of everyday wisdom for girls and boys. It is extremely (in a good sense of the word) didactic which is no wonder considering the date of publication. At that time, literature was fulfilling educational purposes, not only entertaining ones (as we see sometimes see now).
I think that our readers will be delighted to get an idea of this rare book which is an example of children’s literature showing us what boys and girls at that time were up to.
A Little Pretty Pocket-Book I,II
Most nations have games in which they excel – or think they do – and some seem to be good at many games and bad at others. There is often intense rivalry during world class competitions like the Olympic Games, so much so that nations even compete for the honour of staging1 such games. Rightly or wrongly, it is believed that Russians excel at chess, Canadians at ice hockey, Scots at curling, Chinese and youngsters from FSU2 countries at gymnastics, and naturally, Americans at American football and Australians at Australian Rules Football. Here in England, we like to think that we are good at both soccer and cricket, in spite of the fact that we are generally defeated in both games in international competitions, especially by Australians! I am sure you can think of many more examples and will probably disagree with those I have offered. Arguments about the relative merits of different, especially local, teams is an essential part of the whole culture which is sadly taken to extremes at times resulting in disgraceful violence and hooliganism. Not so very long ago – during my lifetime – the result was considered to be less important than the manner in which the game was played and this has given rise to many metaphors in the English language. For example: ‘play the game3’, ‘that’s not cricket4’, ‘be a sport5’, ‘a sticky wicket6’, ‘have a goal or an aim’, ‘a straight shooter7’, ‘run a good race’, ‘overcome a hurdle8’ and many more. Some are even ironic: ‘he’s for the high jump’ referring to being hung rather than the athletic event! There are also arguments about whether events should be classed as ‘games’ or ‘sports’.
Надежда Никифоровна Рогожина, проректор по международным программам, зав. кафедрой лингвистики и межъязыковой коммуникации Самарского муниципального университета Наяновой, кандидат педагогических наук, доцент.
Директор негосударственного учреждения дополнительного образования “World Class-Samara”.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with the title of this article, but please just bear with me a little longer. I think it is well-known that baseball is one of the most popular games in America. In fact, Americans would have you believe that baseball was invented by Civil War hero Abner Doubleday in 1839 in Cooperstown, New York. Sadly for Abner, and the Americans, that’s just not true. The first record of baseball (actually base-ball) comes from the English book ‘A Little Pretty Pocket Book’ in 1744. The Abner Doubleday story was put about by the United States’ slightly paranoid baseball authorities in 1907. The fact that Doubleday never visited Cooperstown nor mentioned any bat and ball games in his diaries seems to have been of little consequence! So we English can claim to be the inventors of this game, or at least the first to record it. I expect that something like it has probably been played ever since the dawn of history! Nevertheless, England can claim to be the birthplace of many games and sports and the English to have been pioneers in spreading their recreations throughout the world even if they are famous losers. I have already written about the origins of snooker; Rugby football is self-evidently the product of a school of that name, cricket is quintessentially English, and so on. But back to the ‘A Little Pretty Pocketbook’!
The full title of the children’s book is: ‘A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, intended for the Amusement of Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly with Two Letters from Jack the Giant Killer’ and it was first published by John Newbery in 1744.This book is now very rare and no copy of the first edition is now known to exist – they were probably well worn in their time by being handed down to successive members of their large families. However, the US Library of Congress has a copy of a later edition printed by Isaiah Thomas in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1787, and they have digitised9 it and published it on the internetIII.
It is generally considered to be the first children’s book and consists of simple rhymes together with some other moral tales and advice. To market10 the book to the children of the day, the book came with either a ball or a pincushion11, depending on which sex the child was. Contained in the book were two versions of a letter from Jack the Giant-Killer describing the proper use of these toys. Because the book was intended for either sex, this letter is duplicated with slight changes to make one version suitable for a boy and the other for a girl. However, these were not simply toys, but each was coloured with one half red and the other half black. Every time the child was good, it’s nurseIV was supposed to stick a pin in the red side and every time the child was naughty, a pin was to be put in the black side. When there were 10 pins on the red side, the child’s father would sendV it a pennyVI; if there were 10 pins on the black side, the father was supposed to send a rod12 for the child to be beaten. Whether these rewards and punishments were carried out in practice is a moot point13 and they may have been written just to inspire (and frighten) the child into behaving well. Anyway, the book was very popular, and earned Newbery much fame. Eventually the Newbery MedalVII was named after him.
A woodcut14 from ‘A Little Pretty Pocketbook’ shows a picture of children playing a game, the first known reference to baseball in the page for the little (lower case) letter k. This isn’t exactly the modern American game (there are posts instead of bases), but it looks pretty closeVIII. The rhymes accompanying the picture read:
The Ball once struck off,
Away flies the Boy
‘To the next destin’d Post,
And the Home with Joy
Thus Britons for Lucre
Fly over the Main;
But, with Pleasure transported,
Return back again.
The book contains a rhyme or fable for each small and large letter of the alphabetIX, with some extra rhymes included. It is all told to the boy and the girl by Jack the Giant Killer, who is represented as their friend, although there is no mention of giants or the killing thereof15! I suppose the children would have been told stories about Jack and the giants by their nurses as a matter of course16. Later pages in the book are devoted to many rules of behaviour. The American edition contains a postscript urging17 the children to learn some songs which Jack urges them to learn perfectly because they will recommend the singer to the ‘FavourX of all the Gentlemen and Ladies of America who sing in that manner.’ There are many blank pages at the beginning and end, perhaps so that the child could make its own observations.
Newbery’s books, bound with covers of Dutch floral paper and gilt18 edges, were designed to delight the eye. His books appealed to parents who embraced the popular Lockean19 ideal of education by amusement, and they set a standard for quality of writing and presentation. A Little Pretty Pocket-Book was the first of many educational children’s books published by Newbery. He appears to have written several books himself, but well-known authors were also willing to write for him. Sarah Fielding, for example, wrote, The Governess or Little Female Academy, and Oliver Goldsmith almost certainly wrote Little Goody Two-Shoes. Newbery’s The Newtonian System of Philosophy, also known as The Philosophy of Tops and Balls, was an introduction to what we would call science today, presenting astronomy, physics, geography, and natural philosophy in an appealing way. We can credit Newbery with the first English version of Charles Perrault’s Tales from Mother Goose. By the time of his death in 1767, Newberry had published a long list of children’s titles. The Latin motto on the frontispiece of A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, ‘Delectando monemus’ had become his life’s mission – ‘instruction with delight’.
- by David Wright (UK)
I In England, the term ‘pocket book’ refers to just that – a book of a size which just fits one’s pocket; but in the USA, it is also a place to keep one’s money! One dictionary lists four related US meanings:
1. A purse; a handbag. 2. A pocket-sized folder or case used to hold money and papers; a billfold. 3. Financial resources; money supply: ‘prices to fit your pocketbook’.
4. often pocket book A pocket-sized, usually paperbound book. Also called pocket edition. II In normal speech nowadays, we would reverse the adjectives and say ‘pretty little’, even though that might be confusing – it could mean ‘rather or fairly little’, ie not very little. There is little pretty logic to the English language! III You can see it at: click here IV A book such as this would be possessed only by fairly well-to-do families where children would be looked after by a nurse from when they were very young until they were old enough to be educated by a tutor. There were no schools such as we know them and wealthy families employed nurses and tutors whose status was somewhat greater than servants, but less than members of the family. It was an expensive business for rich people to have children! V Notice that the reward earned would not be given directly to the child by its parent, but given via the nurse. Similarly with any punishment deserved. VI A significant amount of money in those days – perhaps as much as a poor labourer might earn for a day’s work in the fields. A children’s rhyme for chanting while playing on a see-saw goes: ‘See-saw, Marjorie Daw, Johnny shall have a new master; he shall have but a penny a day, because he can’t work any faster.’ VII The Newbery Medal is a literary award given annually since 1922 to the author of the outstanding American book for children. It is considered one of the most prestigious awards for children’s literature in the USA. VIII The game depicted looks very like the simple form of baseball still played when I was a boy called ‘rounders’. It may have finally disappeared in this age of electronic amusement. IX Except j, J, v and V where i, I, u and U would have served instead. X In those days, it was customary to use capital letters for nouns and italics for emphasising important words like proper names. Another peculiarity (to our modern eyes) is the use of the long ‘s’ which looks very similar to the letter ‘f’ and is used when an s occurs within a word, ie not at the beginning or end. Thus the first and third lines of the Moral above look like: ‘Thus Britons for Lucre’ and ‘But, with Pleafure tranfported,’ – a normal ‘s’ in ‘Britons’, but a long ‘s’ (written like ‘f’) in ‘Pleafure’ and ‘tranfported’. Another good example is ‘Maffachufets’ from the US edition.
1 to stage – (зд.) организовывать 2 FSU – /Former Soviet Union/ бывший Советский Союз 3 to play the game – играть по правилам 4 not cricket – не по правилам; нечестно 5 be a sport – будь человеком! 6 sticky wicket – затруднительное положение (wicket – воротца в крикете) 7 straight shooter – человек, который говорит, что думает 8 hurdle – (спорт.) барьер 9 to digitise – оцифровывать (сканировать, фотографировать и т.д.) 10 to market – сбывать, продавать 11 pincushion – подушечка для булавок 12 rod – розга 13 moot point – спорный вопрос 14 woodcut – гравюра (на дереве) 15 thereof – об этом 16 as a matter of course – как само собой разумеющееся 17 to urge – убеждать, советовать 18 gilt – золоченый 19 Lockean – имеющий отношение к Джону Локку (английскому философу-просветителю XVII века)