A few years back, my sister and I were looking through some of our grandmother’s books in a back bedroom when we came across one with a curious title. The words Ailenroc’s Book grabbed our attention, and as we gingerly opened the frail green volume we soon discovered who Ailenroc was. She wrote in the short preface “I do not think I shall live to see [this book] out, but I want to bespeak for it a kind reception. Of faults it has many; but I am sure they are not of the heart, and it is a pleasure to me to think that I have written nothing that can do harm.” Ailenroc, or more properly, Cornelia Alexander, was an elderly Christian lady of Alabama. Whether she was still living when the book was published in 1899 is unknown to me, but the stories and poems that she compiled in her oddly-named book carry a legacy that lives on.
Because this book is now in the public domain, and because it has become somewhat scarce, I have decided to transmit it to readers through a medium that Mrs. Alexander could not have even imagined. I will begin with the title page and the preface.
COMPOSED OF POEMS AND STORIES.
BY MRS. SARAH CORNELIA ALEXANDER, PIEDMONT, ALABAMA.
GOSPEL ADVOCATE COMPANY, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE.
I have never before written a preface for a book, because I have never before written a book, and therefore have only a dim idea of what I should say. A preface, I believe, is a reason—or, rather an apology—for inflicting another book upon an unoffending world.
Long years ago, while living in the country, my time for the most part occupied by my household duties and the care of two little children, there would come to me in my lonely hours thoughts which I hoped were worth preserving. Later I began to want to share those thoughts with others. I wrote them down, and the Gospel Advocate company consented to publish them. Too diffident to use my own name, I spelled it backward, “Ailenroc.” In the course of time disease fell heavily upon me; I knew no more well days; and poverty, too, came with added distress. A year ago my physician said, “You cannot live; your days are numbered;” and when I had sobbed out my heart’s grief and become reconciled to God’s will, I thought if I had only saved my little pieces I might have left a book behind me. Kind friends helped me, and I had responses from a great many States. The Gospel Advocate Publishing Company kindly undertook the work, and my little book is assured. I do not think I shall live to see it out, but I want to bespeak for it a kind reception. Of faults it has many; but I am sure they are not of the heart, and it is a pleasure to me to think that I have written nothing that can do harm.
SARAH CORNELIA ALEXANDER.