A Collection of Tracts is a Sunday School ‘reward’ book for young readers. It contains a select choice of moral tales that intend to inculcate good behaviour. Many are accounts of the deaths of children which, although they may have some grounding in truth, are largely allegorical.
It is written and compiled by William Carus Wilson, a reverend and Charlotte and Emily Brontë’s headmaster at Cowan Bridge Clergy Daughter’s School.
The story shown here is an account of the life and death of Grace Nuttall. Wilson represents Grace as devoutly pious and welcoming of death because it will unite her with Christ. The story concludes by advising its readers to learn from Grace’s example and warns, ‘Though you are very young, yet you are sinners in the sight of God, and deserve punishment in hell. I hope you know this’.
Influence in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre
Critics speculate that these tracts inspired the ‘thin pamphlet’ given to Jane by Mr Brocklehurst in Chapter IV, titled 'Child’s Guide'.
Similarly, Child’s First Tales is a potential source for the grim readings incorporated into Brocklehurst's teaching ('“…he bored us with long lectures once a week, and with evening readings from books of his own inditing, about sudden deaths and judgments, which made us afraid to go to bed.”').