Cautionary Tales for Children

#English # Irish # Scottish # Welsh #Poetry
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Excerpt INTRODUCTION Upon being asked by a Reader whether the verses contained in this book were true.     And is it True? It is not True.And if it were it wouldn’t do,For people such as me and youWho pretty nearly all day longAre doing something rather wrong.Because if things were really so,You would have perished long ago,And I would not have lived to writeThe noble lines that meet your sight,Nor B. T. B. survived to drawThe nicest things you ever saw.H. B. Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion.     There was a Boy whose name was Jim;His Friends were very good to him.They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,And slices of delicious Ham,And Chocolate with pink inside,And little Tricycles to ride,And   read him Stories through and through,And even took him to the Zoo—But there it was the dreadful FateBefell him, which I now relate. You know—at least you ought to know.For I have often told you so—That Children never are allowedTo leave their Nurses in a Crowd; Now this was Jim’s especial Foible,He ran away when he was able,And on this inauspicious dayHe slipped his hand and ran away!He hadn’t gone a yard when—   Bang!With open Jaws, a Lion sprang,And hungrily began to eatThe Boy: beginning at his feet. Now just imagine how it feelsWhen first your toes and then your heels,And then by gradual degrees,Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.   No wonder Jim detested it!No wonder that he shouted “Hi!”The Honest Keeper heard his cry,Though very fat   he almost ranTo help the little gentleman.“Ponto!” he ordered as he came(For Ponto was the Lion’s name),“Ponto!” he cried,   with angry Frown.“Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!” The Lion made a sudden Stop,He let the Dainty Morsel drop,And slunk reluctant to his Cage,Snarling with Disappointed RageBut when he bent him over Jim,The Honest Keeper’s   Eyes were dim.The Lion having reached his Head,The Miserable Boy was dead!   When Nurse informed his Parents, theyWere more Concerned than I can say:—His Mother, as She dried her eyes,Said, “Well—it gives me no surprise,He would not do as he was told!”His Father, who was self-controlled,Bade all the children round attendTo James’ miserable end,And always keep a-hold of NurseFor fear of finding something worse. Henry King, Who chewed bits of String, and was early cut off in Dreadful Agonies.   The Chief Defect of Henry KingWas   chewing little bits of String.At last he swallowed some which tiedItself in ugly Knots inside.   Physicians of the Utmost FameWere called at once; but when they cameThey answered,   as they took their Fees,“There is no Cure for this Disease.Henry will very soon be dead.”His Parents stood about his BedLamenting his Untimely Death,When Henry, with his Latest Breath,Cried—“Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,   That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch and TeaAre all the Human Frame requires ...”With that the Wretched Child expires. ...
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