A Legacy for Children: Being Some of the Last Expressions and Dying Sayings of Hannah Hill, Junr. of the City of Pensilvania in America: Aged Eleven Years and Nearly Three Months
This is a significant text as it is one of the earliest texts with a number of distinctly literary dimensions held in the Pollard Collection of Children’s Books. The work is bound with four other Quaker tracts published between 1693 and 1819 (TCD catalogue note): The Work of a Dying Maid; Joshua Cobham’s Testimony Concerning Life and Death; Some Account of Abigail Brown; and A Short History of a Long Travel, from Babylon to Bethel. Significantly, four out of the five tracts bound together are deathbed narratives, three of which are child deathbed narratives. Unlike other child deathbed narratives popular at the time, A Legacy for Children comprises a number of different perspectives on Hannah’s death in a variety of forms. It includes the main text where Hannah’s voice is represented in italics, ‘testimonies’ of various people, and a simple letter from Hannah to her cousin. The addition of a Preface and Postscript suggest, as in other literary texts, the creation of a particular textual world. Though perhaps not strictly or solely aimed at the child, some aspects of the text address the child reader, connecting the work with others in this genre found throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The preface addresses the ‘Tender Reader’ and expresses the hope that the reader will be inspired by the same desires as the deceased Hannah: ‘for the general Good and Welfare of all the Sons and Daughters of Men, under what Denomination soever’ [sic], suggesting the direction of the main text. In the following section, ‘Some of the Last Expressions and Sayings of Hannah Hill, Junior’, much of the text is a description of Hannah’s words, and the context in which they were uttered. Despite the avowedly nondenominational concepts outlined in the Preface, this part of the text emphasises aspects of religious practice of the Quaker movement. Hannah’s words in this main part of the text describe her fears that the Lord may be ‘displeased’ with her, and later urges her mother to let her cousins go to Meeting ‘for it may be, the Lord will be displeased, if all the Family stay at home’ (13). The remaining sections of the text are a ‘Postscript’, (20) ‘The Substance of a Letter from H. Hill Jun. to her Cousin Elizabeth Norris’ (22-23), which describes the funeral of a family friend; ‘Griffith Owen, his Testimony’ (23-6), words from Hannah’s physician; and ‘Thomas Chalkley, his Testimony’ (26-9), words from a man who resided with the family and witnessed Hannah’s goodness, and his testimony particularly emphasises Hannah’s kindness to ‘the Servants both White and Black’ (27) suggesting a relatively early indication of antislavery sentiment of the Quakers.
Place of Publication:
re-printed by Sam Fairbrother in Skinner-Row
Date of Publication:
1 v. ; 14. 2 cm.
Copy Specific Notes:
MS name: Eliza Grubb
Literature and Education
Death, Child Death, Death Narrative, Religion, Nondenominational, Quaker, Slavery
Pollard Collection - TCD