"Pansies for Thoughts", in its original edition, is a rare little gem first published by D. Lothrop Company in 1888. This book was "compiled and arranged with an appropriate text for each day" by young Grace Livingston (she would not marry Rev. Hill until 1892).
It is not, as some mistakenly believe, a devotional with daily thoughts from Grace's own pen. Instead, this daily devotional is filled with quotes from books written by Grace's author-aunt, Isabella Macdonald Alden. Isabella wrote under the pen name "Pansy", thus the play on words in the title, referencing the line from Shakespeare's "Hamlet".
Click here to read Pansies for Thoughts online.
Grace selected a quote for each day from one of the "Pansy Books" and paired it with a Scripture or a bit of verse. It was a joy for "Auntie Belle" (as Grace called her) to watch her niece in action. The original book's Preface (which is completely missing from the modern editions) gives us an insight into Grace's young life, how the book was put together, and how humbled Pansy was to be thus immortalized.
I have followed with absorbing interest the compilation of this volume. As I have watched the fair young head bent from day to day over "The Deathless Book," making quotations from its inspired pages that should repeat and emphasize my own thoughts, there has been a grateful, uplifting, humbling realization of the fact that I was being linked with immortality! For certainly the words that accompany my simple ones make each page glow with a light that shall have power to shine even to the very gates of the eternal city.
Moreover, as I have watched the thoughtful face of the compiler brighten and flush, and her eyes grow earnest while her heart took in some solemn charge of the Master, I have felt that, as she transmitted it to paper, there went with it a prayer that the Holy Spirit who had guided her choice, would use these pages in a way to lead some souls daily higher, even into the "shining light" of the "perfect day."
In this wish and prayer I join her earnestly, as the little book goes out to do its work.
After fifteen years of searching, I began to doubt this little book's existence until the day I received an email from abebooks.com.
Before 1991, not many Grace Livingston Hill readers knew what this book was about except that it was a title on one of many GLH booklists floating around in various forms and it rarely came up for sale. I'd never even seen someone else's copy, much less one that was for sale. It arrived unobtrusively in a manila envelope, snuggled in cardboard and newspaper, little touched by the one-hundred-plus years since it had come off the printing press to delight its first owner. I could hardly believe that it finally belonged to me!
Several years earlier, I'd bought what I suspected to be a reprint of "Pansies for Thoughts" called "Grace Livingston Hill - For Each New Day" published by Barbour and Company in 1991. It was publshed in both paperback and hardback editions. (Ten years later, it was reissued in a smaller size paperback with a different cover under the same title.)
So, as soon as I returned from the post office I opened both books and as I suspected, the quotes matched exactly—page for page and date for date. But the books were NOT the same! Much to my surprise, the original edition included the titles of the Pansy books that the quotes are taken from, and NOT the scripture reference. The modern editions included the Scripture reference but the titles had been removed!
It was a wonderful revelation to me that these were not Grace's words, but her beloved Auntie Belle's words! Now the book's title made perfect sense. Just a few paragraphs of explanation from the publisher would have introduced the connection, fascinated Grace's fans, and saved them a lot of fruitless searching for quotes that were not from her books!
If you read these passages knowing of the close relationship between these two, you come to know a little more about Grace's own thoughts and what she felt was both important to her and important to share from the Pansy books.
These books were a part of Grace's life—perhaps, in many ways, a pattern for it—and I'm sure she was affected by them in the same way that Grace's readers are affected by her own books. Once you've read the quotes, you can't help but wondering about them and about their author. I encourage you to seek them out and make them a part of your life, too.