[To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read”]

William and Eliza; or, The Visit (1841-1844?)

William and Eliza Seaton have an educational visit to the country. A tiny charmer, this is an example of chapbooks available in early 19th-century America. It measures 3 3/8″ x 2″ (8 cm x 5 cm)—just the right size for a child’s pocket—and cost one cent—just the right price for a child’s budget. Four tiny illustrations decorate the eight pages of text, which were sewn together. According to the American Antiquarian Society, the publisher, R. L. Underhill, of Bath, New York, published several books in that town between 1841-1844.

William and Eliza; or, The Visit (Bath, NY: R. L. Underhill & Co., n. d.)

[front cover]

Front cover

[title page]

Title page



p. 2

a girl sews


William and Eliza had left New York city with their father, to spend a few days at their uncle’s, near Hackensack, and amuse themselves with walking in the orchards and meadows.

This is a charming place, said Mr. Seaton to his children. See how green the grass is. Run about and try how many sorts

p. 3

two children and a man outdoors

you can find, for it is now in blossom. You have got eight sorts. Eliza has quite a nosegay; red, blue, yellow, and white flowers.

Cows, horses, and sheep eat grass; but they do not eat it all in that state; a great deal is cut down with a scythe, which is called mowing. The haymakers then turn it over and over to

p. 4

dry it, and make hay of it, with which they feed the cattle during the winter season.

Now we will take leave of the meadow, and go into the wheat field. Look, children, this is wheat: I put this in my pocket, which grew last year, on purpose to show you what this that grows here will come to. Rub it with your hands; blow the chaff off; give me one seed. This is called a grain of wheat. Observe, there are a great many stalks from one root, and yet the whole grew from one single grain, which grew last fall, and remained covered with the earth and snow all the winter.

p. 5

a boy threshes in a barn

This which grows now will be ripened by the sun, and look like that which you rubbed to pieces; then it will be cut down with a sickle or cradle, and tied up in bundles called sheaves, and carried to the barn, where it will be thrashed, cleaned from the chaff, and sent to the miller; he will grind it into flour, which

p. 6

will be sold to the baker, who will make it into bread; but we must leave some for puddings and pies.

Only think, William, what quantities of grain must be sown every year to furnish bread for so many thousand people as are in New York. But, dear Eliza, I think you have tired yourself, and William seems to have done so too; therefore let us all sit down on this grassy bank, and rest ourselves.

What a fine spreading oak this is, which serves to shade us so comfortably from the sun. See what a number of acorns hang upon it; they are excellent food for hogs. But do not

p. 7

a boy, a man, and a girl under a tree

think that the stately oak is good for nothing but to supply them with food; it is of the greatest use to us. How large it is! it is bigger round than a man’s body; it has many hundreds of branches, thousands of acorns, and still more leaves. It has great roots, which strike deep into the ground, and spread all round at the bottom; they keep

p. 8

it from being blown down by the violent gusts of wind which it frequently has to encounter; and it is through the roots that the moisture of the earth nourishes it, and keeps it alive.

This great tree grew at first from a little acorn, such as one of those now growing on it.

On their return, they came to the orchard. How regularly the trees are planted! See the little apples hanging on every branch, not yet ripe; they will be much larger, and most of them have red cheeks; such as are sold at Washington market.

Being now summoned to tea, they obeyed, much pleased with the excursion of the afternoon.

[back cover]


Children in the Wood

Cinderella, or the Glass Slippers

Clara, or the Reform

Death of Cock Robin

History of the Giants

Little Jane, or the Consequences of Playing with Fire

Margaret, or the Little Runaway

Old Woman and her Pig

Pretty Picture Alphabet

History of Tom Thumb

Whittington and his Cat

William and Eliza, or the Visit.

image of back cover
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