Friday, 20 November 2015

To Mary Blick Best, 1820, with love from her husband.

This example of penmanship is just one page among many in one of my most treasured books.  

It is a Commonplace Book written by R Best, for his wife Mary.   My book is volume 3, alas I don't have volume 1 or 2.   I bought the book at auction, many years ago, and have loved it ever since.

Whenever I come across a book like this, (handwritten and named) I cannot help but wonder about why it is not still with the family.   Of course the family may have died out, the end of the line reached, but it can't always be the case.      I love the book, the handwriting, the contents, and especially the fact that it was all dedicated to his wife, but it should still be with the family.

R Best - I can't find his Christian name - was a commercial traveller, so he was away from home a lot.      There are business cards from Commercial Inns, a black edged envelope, card and letter written to inform him of the death of an old friend and the date of the funeral...postal delivery was much speedier in those days!

He was fond of lines like this:

You tell old Hugh, to hew the yew
To mask the Ewe with deepest hew...


Thomas Wright
Cannot write
All the Rites
Of the Church; Right.


Let a pair
Pare a pear
For a peer
At the pier

and he wrote lots epitaphs copied from gravestones, some dating back to the 1600's.      No doubt many of them have been obliterated by time,  while others will have been moved from their original location and placed around the edge of a churchyard, in order to make maintenance easier, or because Health & Safety have deemed them to be a danger.  

So much valuable information in one little book, I doubt he realised just how much it would be cherished by one strange  woman, almost 200 years later!

Another entry:

Lines on a Shaving cloth at the Victoria Hotel, Newport, Shropshire:

Should you, kind sir, incline to shave
A favour from your hands I crave
Which would accommodate us both
Pray wipe your razor on this cloth.
The chambermaid.

The book is filled with entries, but rather than ramble on too long,  I'll share some more another time.

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