AM (unsigned), 19pp (recto and verso), 4 3/4" X 7 3/4", n.p., n.y. [ca. 1870s?]. Very good. Bit of faint age toning and old folds (neither strong nor weakened). Item #40711
Quite attractive and frustratingly cryptic unsigned Autograph Manuscript, two-punched at top and string-tied with original pink ribbon. Fascinating firsthand recollections of the writer's early education in a New England country school house, apparently penned for some kind of commemoration. All told a dense, meaty manuscript that must be read in its entirety to be appreciated. Opens with: "It is a difficult thing to describe an old place, which you have not seen for years, to a company of friends who have never seen it; a ruler and a compass seem indispensable, a rough sketch on paper to show its position, and its various surroundings, but, who among us here can fail to describe most accurately, and who can fail to comprehend, without the aid of riveted compass and finely pencilled drawings, a country school house, a New England School house, with its ragged walls and still raggeder urchins, with its four windows, with its one door, with its rows of old desks, long since hacked by the idlers of other days, with its ink spots dropped years before, with its benches all scratched over with school boy hieroglyphics, and last and not least, but first with that old that honorable, that respected, that indispensable, institution to Every New England town the village 'School mom'...." He then gives a few vague specifics: "In the years 1847 & 1848, there was a small white house, in a village north that has since been torn down. If we were to measure off 200 feet in 27th Street on the lower side of the Street, West of the Third Avenue, should locate there the Old Academy where two short years, we studied. Six young zebras sent from the turmoil of the city to the quiet country, there by labor of mind and of body to blend beauty with intelligence, alas it was a failure, from lack of ingredients ...." He describes their beloved "School mom" ("She was a nice young lady, a little above the medium height, with light hair and very mild blue eyes, her dress was always plain, and becoming... and she was loved by us all, young and old thought Miss B.... was perfection, and how could we help it, we fresh from the Schools of Gotham...."), going at length into her benevolent teaching style and her mysterious personal life. He addresses the family who lived in the house (Dominis), the appearance of the school and its grounds, the pupils' pastimes and pranks, the owner of the house ("an old Jesuit... always prowling round, inserting his long lean crooked nose in the School house... the wealthiest & the meanest"), etc. All very Dickensian, very Norman Rockwell -- sentimental and charming, viewed from perhaps a half century or more later. Penned in brown ink in a handsome, easily legible small hand. Although some clues do crop up that may help identify this academy and perhaps the writer, we have been unable to do so despite all efforts.