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Cautionary Tales for Children

Hilaire Belloc

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Parents, they
Were 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 attend
[Pg 16] To James’ miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

[Pg 17]

Henry King,

Who chewed bits of String, and was early cut off in Dreadful Agonies.


The Chief Defect of Henry King

chewing little bits of String.
At last he swallowed some which tied
[Pg 18] Itself in ugly Knots inside.

Physicians of the Utmost Fame
Were called at once; but when they came
They answered,

[Pg 19]

as they took their Fees,
“There is no Cure. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Belloc's Tales were originally published in 1907. They're amusing. They are a perfect text for Gorey: a little Old Possum's, a little Gashlycrumb. They are so perfect a text for Gorey's art that I couldn't believe the edition was first published in 2002. I spent longer looking up Belloc and the vari

Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
Snuggled in a cuddly, loving lap.
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
Pictures for full multi-sensory immersion.
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
Two voices: sometimes taking turns, sometimes in unison.
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
This is the stuff of formative childhood memories.

My father r

I know many of these well enough to recite them. Some of my favourite quotes:

[Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion:]
"Now just imagine how it feels
when first your toes and then your heels
and then by gradual degrees
your insteps, ankles, calves and knees
are slowly eaten, bit by bit!

Beware of the spacing that jarringly breaks up some limericks! But I'm glad I've read Hilaire Belloc.

And so I stumble through another book of classic children's verse. I do try and educate myself although it is not my express reason for reading it does help fill in the gaps as it were.

And I have to say its jolly good fun along the way (I am sure the content and style of this book is rubbing off on

Crikey! No wonder British children were so well-behaved a hundred years ago. They were scared out of their wits by gruesome accounts of what might happen to youngsters who stepped out of line. Assuming, that is, that the book was actually used for the purpose of cautioning children.

At the beginning

If only more parents read this to their little hooligans they might learn to be bad in more original ways.

CAUTIONARY TALES FOR CHILDREN, written by Hialaire Belloc, and illustrated by Edward Gorey. (Naturally, it was the Edward Gorey part that had me purchasing this in the first place.)

The stories/punishments for children were amusing--the deadly ones, better ;), but the illustrations by Gorey are what

One wonders who, with options wide
would name their screaming, new born baby Clyde?
Even Hilaire -- a name so florid, French, and rude,
Seems pre-destined to start a feud.
Inspire a Belle Edward of francs and also quids,
to scribble moral poems to reckless, dirty kids.
Scribble poems Hilaire he di

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