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Scary warnings in Children's Stories

Very few suitably interesting books were available for children in the early 19th century. Ballantyne's  Coral Island and Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's Schooldays both came out in 1857. Treasure Island was not published until 1883. Some of the children's stories, in verse, were not perhaps as funny as the reader might hope, and could have been terrifying to some young readers.

Cruel Frederick

In this story, Cruel Federick "killed the birds and broke the chairs, and threw the kitten down the stairs", but he ended up ill in bed, because a dog bite him.

[http://everything2.com/title/The%2520Story%2520of%2520Cruel%2520Frederick]

This Frederick! this Frederick!
A naughty, wicked boy was he;
He caught the flies, poor little things,
And then tore off their tiny wings;
He killed the birds, and broke the chairs,
And threw the kitten down the stairs;
And oh! far worse and worse,
He whipped his good and gentle nurse!


The trough was full, and faithful Tray
Came out to drink one sultry day;
He wagged his tail, and wet his lip,
When cruel Fred snatched up a whip,
And whipped poor Tray till he was sore,
And kicked and whipped him more and more;


At this, good Tray grew very red,
And growled and bit him till he bled;
Then you should only have been by,
To see how Fred did scream and cry!

So Frederick had to go to bed;
His leg was very sore and red!
The Doctor came and shook his head,
And made a very great to-do,
And gave him bitter physic too.

But good dog Tray is happy now;
He has no time to say "bow-wow!"
He seats himself in Frederick's chair,
And laughs to see the nice things there:
The soup he swallows, sup by sup,-
And eats the pies and puddings up.


The Dreadful Story About Harriet and the Matches

This story tells how the pussy cats warned Hariet not to touch the matches, but she did, and,  she get burned till nothing else but her little scarlet shoes found among her ashes on the ground:

[http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/64784-Heinrich-Hoffman-The-Dreadful-Story-of-Harriet-and-the-Matches]

It almost makes me cry to tell
What foolish Harriet befell.
Mamma and Nurse went out one day
And left her all alone at play.

Now, on the table close at hand,
A box of matches chanced to stand;
And kind Mamma and Nurse had told her,
That, if she touched them, they would scold her.

But Harriet said: "Oh, what a pity!
For, when they burn, it is so pretty;
They crackle so, and spit, and flame:
Mamma, too, often does the same."


The pussy-cats heard this,
And they began to hiss,
And stretch their claws,
And raise their paws;

"Me-ow," they said, "me-ow, me-o,
You'll burn to death, if you do so."
But Harriet would not take advice:
She lit a match, it was so nice!

It crackled so, it burned so clear—
Exactly like the picture here.
She jumped for joy and ran about
And was too pleased to put it out.

The Pussy-cats saw this
And said: "Oh, naughty, naughty Miss!"
And stretched their claws,
And raised their paws:

"'Tis very, very wrong, you know,
Me-ow, me-o, me-ow, me-o,
You will be burnt, if you do so."
And see! oh, what dreadful thing!
The fire has caught her apron-string;

Her apron burns, her arms, her hair—
She burns all over everywhere.
Then how the pussy-cats did mew—
What else, poor pussies, could they do?

They screamed for help, 'twas all in vain!
So then they said: "We'll scream again;
Make haste, make haste, me-ow, me-o,
She'll burn to death; we told her so."

So she was burnt, with all her clothes,
And arms, and hands, and eyes, and nose;
Till she had nothing more to lose
Except her little scarlet shoes;

And nothing else but these was found
Among her ashes on the ground.
And when the good cats sat beside
The smoking ashes, how they cried!

"Me-ow, me-oo, me-ow, me-oo,
What will Mamma and Nursey do?"
Their tears ran down their cheeks so fast,
They made a little pond at last.

The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb

This horrible warning concerned little Suck-a-Thumb, who was told not to, but took no notice until a "great, long, red-legged scissor-man" came and cut off his thums "Snip! Snap! Snip!"

[http://www.critchley.biz/sucker.html]

One day, Mamma said, "Conrad dear,
I must go out and leave you here.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don't suck your thumb while I'm away.

The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys that suck their thumbs.
And ere they dream what he's about
He takes his great sharp scissors

And cuts their thumbs clean off, - and then
You know, they never grow again."
Mamma had scarcely turn'd her back,
The thumb was in, alack! alack!

The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legged scissorman.
Oh! children, see! the tailor's come
And caught our little Suck-a-Thumb.

Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
And Conrad cries out - Oh! Oh! Oh!
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast;
That both his thumbs are off at last.

Mamma comes home; there Conrad stands,
And looks quite sad, and shows his hands;-
"Ah!" said Mamma "I knew he'd come
To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb."

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