by June T. Bassemir
Have you ever heard of Charlotte Temple? I doubt it. It is the name of the central character in a small leather bound book only 2 ½” x 4 ½” in size that was written in 1829. This small book has been waiting patiently in a large box of family treasures forgotten for many years.
Only recently did I open the box to examine the contents. Its age and the condition of spotted pages made me wonder why one of my ancestors felt it worthy of saving. After all, it is as of this year, 2012, 182 years old. The title is simply “Charlotte” written in gold on the spine, and the author is a Mrs. Rowson. On the title page it says “A Tale of Truth”… and then it quotes these lines from Romeo and Juliet:
“She was her parents’ only joy:
They had but one – one darling child.”
This then, sets the scene for love, deception, bitterness, and forgiveness. It is a little book of 35 chapters and only 137 pages. What an instructive and moving tale is woven therein. It has so captivated my attention that even now, several days after finishing it, I find myself absorbed in Charlotte’s plight and resulting end. As you can imagine, a story written in that year is very different from any book or movie of today. The same alluring temptations that presented themselves to Charlotte are commonplace in today’s society but unlike the written word of today, the wording and thread of the story are carefully hidden in its paragraphs. How refreshing to turn the crisp, stained pages and “hear” what the author tells us, without the standard immoral blow by blow descriptive words in today’s books which leave nothing to be discovered by the imagination.
It must have been a true story, written no doubt in an effort to save another innocent young girl from the evil ways of men in that time period… indeed it would be a good lesson for naïve girls of today… if you could find one! One could even call it a handbook – a study of what happens when one enters a relationship, pushing aside the natural innermost thoughts that warn of disaster.
I will save the book for another time. Sadly, there isn’t anyone I know who would appreciate the moral message it is trying to give.