Sam’s Mission: A Story of Jubilee Year, by Beatrice Marshall

This lovely little children’s book published in 1892 is set in Long Leatham, England, at the time of Jubilee Day, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne.

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Sam is a young boy about eight or nine years old who one day goes to church and hears a traveling missionary say that however weak or insignificant you may be, you may do great things for God if you earnestly desire it. However difficult and impossible that may seem at first, God will make it possible if you ask him with all your heart. He will show you the way. (Yes! I’m inspired! Even a children’s book can get these truths out.)

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To Sam’s mind, that meant that even the youngest could be going out into the world to tell people about the love of Jesus. Although Sam is normally a quiet inactive child, he thinks about it, and takes it very deeply to heart. Soon, he wants to do that so badly that he actually tells his sister his secret and makes a plan to leave home with his tiny little rucksack and go to a particular city to find this traveling pastor.

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Sam’s sister tries to talk him out of it but he will not change his mind. So she agrees to go with him and they secretly pack up some things for their trip and set up very early the next morning in the dark. The sister believes that she can persuade her brother to come back home so she assumes that they will be home by nightfall.

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But she is wrong and they come across a lot of troubles that they didn’t expect and some unsavory people that robbed them. In the end they are brought home and sadly, the boy dies.  (Sniff sniff!)  His sister and family however believe that he ultimately accomplished his goal. All the people that found out about his determination to tell people about the love of Jesus make his story go public, far and wide, and many children are inspired by that story.

I do not like unhappy endings, on the other hand I do like realistic books, and what happened to this little boy was realistic. I love the idea that with determination, and a passion for doing good and to love others and to bring glory to the Lord, there are so many ways for that to be accomplished.  We don’t have to rely on our human ingenuity or strength or wisdom.

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I also thoroughly enjoyed the beautifully developed characters of the other children, and references to actual historic events. It was taking place during the Jubilee celebration of Queen Victoria, and throughout the little book there were references to other events going on in history, as well as details about life at that time.

A rather exciting and unique thing about this book is that although this book was written by Beatrice Marshall, who seems to have been a fairly famous author at that time–I could not find any place online where it was for sale, or any cover image.

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What I did find was that it appears in online copies of something called the Publishers Circular. It is listed in the October 1st 1892 edition and in the “Monthly Package for July to December 1892”. It says Beatrice Marshal is the author of Dolly’s Charge.  But I looked all over the internet and that is all I could find about this book.

So it sort of makes me excited to think, what if I have the only copy of this book, wouldn’t that be extraordinary?

Sam’s Mission was illustrated by C. Manning, published in 1892 by James Nisbet & Company Ltd, London; on the back page is typed: “Lorimer and Chalmers, Printers, Edinburgh”.

Fair’s Fair in Calgary

Fair’s Fair is my favorite used book store in Calgary, actually a “chain”, with 5 locations around the city. They are a joy to browse because they are organized, neat, well-lit, clean, well-labelled and full of near-new books (that is, except for their wonderful vintage books!). The staff at all locations are friendly and helpful.

A few weeks ago, I bought a gift for a friend, encouraged in the baby shower invitation to bring a gently used favorite book, signed, in place of a card. What a sweet idea! I had borrowed The Rosie Project through my library, and found it at Fair’s Fair’s central location. This is where they have their warehouse, an enormous facility with endless shelves going up to the ceiling. I especially appreciated their shelves set aside for award-winning books, like Pulitzer Prize winners.

As I went to buy the book, the children’s shelf caught my eye, one sweet little board book in particular, Guess How Much I Love You. I bought that one, too. (Guess how much they cost—only $15! And a week later as I was buying baby clothes, I amazingly ran across a cute little pink Guess How Much I Love You outfit.)

Rosie Project  Guess how much I love You

Recently I had the privilege of browsing the vintage children’s books at the Mount Royal (17th Avenue SW) store. It was breathtaking. I’ve never seen so many beautiful classic books for young adults and children in one place. All the usual books and collections were represented there, including Nancy Drew, Elsie Dinsmore, school readers, fairy tales, classics like Alice in Wonderland and Bambi, Mother Goose, the My Book House series, Dr. Seuss, Winnie the Pooh, and the Journeys through Bookland series.

I had brought in books to trade, and they gave me credit for half of them (which is actually quite good, as they are picky). I turned right around and used that credit for these gems…

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The Little Hunchback Zia, published 1915, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (the author of the well-known The Secret Garden and A Little Princess)

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Sam’s Mission, by Beatrice Marshall, published 1892

 

Lonely Lily by M.L. Code, published 1893
Lonely Lily by M.L. Code, published 1893

(I’ll post more about these three soon!)

So remember that if you live in the Calgary area, or are passing through, Fair’s Fair is worth a visit!