This is a token. I am giving it to you. Because I have nothing else to give you. Because I am very poor. You can keep it as a reminder that I exist if you wish. Or you can exchange it for something else and forget about me if you wish.
The choice is yours
These are poignant words that were left along with a token at the Foundling Hospital in London in the 1700s.
The Foundling Hospital was one of the great charitable achievements of the 18th century. Women who, by whatever unfortunate circumstance, were unable to raise their baby, could (if they got through the lottery-style entrance process) leave their child at the Foundling Hospital, where the child had the chance of a new life and new identity.
Lots of mothers left a small token (usually a scrap of fabric, but other kinds of small, unassuming tokens were left too) with their baby, so that if they were ever able to return for their child following a change in circumstance, they could be reunited. This rarely happened, however, as a lot of mothers never recovered or, if they ever did return, found that their child had not lived.