Handwriting copy book

Handwriting copy book

Double dealing denotes a base and dastardly spirit.

Robert Henry Sprake used this volume in November 1872, when he was aged 16, and in his last year at Chale School on the Isle of Wight. This was long after many children would have moved on into apprenticeship and agricultural work. This page is from one of twenty four exercise books and copy books used by Robert between 1865 and 1872. Subjects include arithmetic, geography, religious education, and dictation.

The Sprakes ran the Star Brewery in Chale and Robert became a brewer's labourer in the family business. His father died in 1882, and Robert took over the brewery in his twenties. He only lived to the age of 43, dying in January 1900.

The volume is full of sentences designed to improve how people behave, with phrases like “Double dealing denotes a base and dastardly spirit”. This is an excellent example of the sort of moral guidance that was being drilled into the young at the time, by repetition. Not all the guidance shows a detailed knowledge of the natural world, but here a traditional proverb is being used, well known across Europe.

"Where the bee sucks honey the spider sucks poison".

Quick Facts

  • Accession number IWRO:Ac 80/15
  • Dimensions Width 21cm, Height 17 cm
  • Copy book written by George Darnell
  • Made in London
  • Used by Richard Sprake
  • Used at Chale School, Chale, Isle of Wight
  • Date used November 1872
  • Made of paper and ink
  • Found at Freshwater, Isle of Wight


  • George Darnell, the creator of these copybooks had died in 1857. He ran a day school in Islington in North London, and started writing these handbooks and copybooks, in the 1840s.

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