Found – a copy of Ionica – a book of verse by Eton master William Johnson Cory – this edition published anonymously by George Allen in 1891. It has been bound in an expensive full leather binding with gilt decorated inner dentelles. The book was presented by minor poet Arthur C James* to one Iona F Robinson on whom he appears to have been very keen given the title of the book, its sumptuous binding and the poem he has written to her on the front endpaper. Ironically Johnson Cory, a fellow master at Eton, is known for the gay themes in some of his poems.
Jan 16th. To Iona F Robinson
Not from those violet isles of western Greece,
Nor from the statelier cities which of yore
Looked into sunset from the Aegean shore
O’er varied tracts of bay and Chersonese
Home of the muse whose grace shall never cease;
-But from that northern Island which upbore
Columbus’s cross our Britain to explore,
Fit stepping stone for harbinger of peace,
Apt godmother for lives of pure content,
Was born the inspiration of your name.
And this I deem a source more excellent
Than what Greek origin this book may claim.
Ionian airs may charm a leisure hour,
But northern breezes give the living power.
…from Arthur James
Eton 1894 with best wishes
*Not a lot available about him. Full name Arthur Coleridge James. He published several books including Deucalionea; or, Autumn Episodes of Eton, 1894. (Eton: George New, 1895.)
He is recorded in a book on the West Kent Cricket Club as playing cricket when staying with his mother at West Wickham and having been a boy at Eton, who just failed to get into the first eleven team . He was a Newcastle medallist who went on to a brilliant degree in classics at Cambridge. He is mentioned as being a master at Eton. He also wrote the book of verse Songs of Sixpenny and Pupilroom Ripplings in 1899. At the time of his wooing of Ms Robinson he must have been about 50.