Elijah Ross, paternal grandfather to Edith Vail Ross, had in his home library a large volume of poems by the Scottish author Robert Burns published in 1850. Elijah was born in Shrewsbury, Vermont in 1819 but after being orphaned very young he lived out the remainder of his childhood under the guidance of C.B. Harrington in Middletown Springs & Poultney, Vermont, where he made his marriages into the Vail family. With the Scottish last name of Ross it is no surprise to find an extensive book of the famed Scotsman Robert Burns with the signature of Elijah Ross in the inside cover. Aside from that traditional owner signature I have found no markings inside the volume that made any note of which poem(s) Elijah may have favored over another, but the book does open easily to page 131. That bent bookspine may or may not be a clue to a selection from the collection but I will take my clues where I can find them. The short grace by Burns listed there I find wonderful and it is easy to conjure up a vision of Elijah Ross presiding over a family dinner table with this selection:
A Grace Before Dinner
O thou, who kindly dost provide,
for every creature’s want!
We bless thee, God of Nature wide,
For all thy goodness lest;
And, if it please thee, heavenly Guide,
May never worse be sent;
But whether granted or denied,
Lord, bless us with content.*
It is the “May never worse be sent” line that makes me chuckle every time I read it.
Here is also something to be thankful for – the second movement of Antonin Dvořák Serenade for Strings in E major with film footage of Prague in 1912! The film portion is special for two reasons, 1) Prague was the family home of Paul Josef Martin Eisler’s mother Fanni Sekeles Eisler and 2) Edith and Paul Eisler lived in Vienna from 1909-1914 and were frequent visitors to Prague making this 1912 footage an accurate look of the city as it appeared to them.
* From page 131 of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert a Burns with Explanatory and Glossorial notes and a Life of the Author by James Curries, M.D., 1850