Cautionary Tales

Anne here, pondering the notion of cautionary tales. Cautionary tales are those which warn people against performing some kind of forbidden act or doing something dangerous. The focus of the tale then ignores this prohibition and as a result suffers some dreadful, often grisly fate. Lady&Soldier

Cautionary tales have been with us for centuries — King Midas, anyone?  But mostly they seem to me to be aimed at women and children. 

So many folk songs warn naiive maidens against opportunistic men, often soldiers.  Don't for heaven's sake give them your grandad's clothing (Oh, soldier soldier won't you marry me, with your musket fife and drum? Song here.)  

Don't invite in the bad neighbor when your husband is away (Beware of Long Lankin.) Don't try to fetch your ball from over the fence of another bad neighbor ( Little Sir Hugh — originally a nasty anti-semitic cautionary tale), and many others. 

Here's a bit from a Scottish song I learned when I was eight — and had no idea what the reference to her "old tin can" really meant. (Here's an Irish version of the song)

Says I me bonny wee lassie listen to my advice 
Never let a soldier laddie kiss you more than twice 
For all the time he's kissing you, he's a fixing up a plan 
How to get a wee-bit rattle at your old tin can.

Many of the songs also warn women about not being faithful to their men who've gone away to sea, sometimes for years. He might be drowned, he might have settled elsewhere, but woe betide the woman who dares to move on, for then he'll come back and you'll be dreadfully shamed.

Daumen3But the cautionary tales I'm looking at today are those written specifically for children. There was a surge of them in the Victorian era, in English, German and other languages. Many of them warned of quite horrific punishments for what we think are mildly bad habits. Many of the fairy tales we were raised on gave me nightmares as a child.  I still find the tale of the Red Shoes horrific  – a little girl loses her feet for the sin of wanting some pretty shoes to dance in. Horrible stuff.

Here's the tale that goes with the illustration above, from the German Der Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffman published in 1858.

Conrad, also known as Little Suck-a-Thumb
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 out
And cuts their thumbs clean off, and then,
You know, they never grow again."

Horribly gruesome, especially with the illustrations. Guaranteed to cause nightmares in any small insecure thumb-sucking little one whose mother is leaving him alone  — and yet these tales were very popular. By 1876, over 100 editions of Der Struwwelpeter had been printed.LittleMissConsequence

They were popular in America, too, and warned against all kinds of unwanted behavior.  Most of the tales in this book — Little Miss Consequence, published in New York — are directed against girls. I'm not sure whether there was a boys' version, though both boys and girls appear on the cover and there is a boy pictured reading it.

TomBoyBut here's the start of a cautionary tale of that dreadful creature, a Tom-Boy. And no ordinary girl, but the daughter of an earl!

See, it can even happen to people of the Best Families!

She slides on the ice with the boys (tut tut), she rushes off to listen to organ-grinders and their monkeys (shudder), she joins the boys in playing football (bring out the smelling salts!), she climbs trees (horrors!) even jumps ditches (not sure what a proper girl is supposed to do about a ditch, but clearly jumping them is shocking, my dears), and neglects her sewing. Utterly appaaaaalllling!

Naturally such a dreadful creature must end up badly — she is turned into a real boy, sold to a ship's captain and taken away to sea to face an unknown fate, far from her (allegedly) loving family. TomBoy2

Here's the rest of the poem for your horrification. (I'm a nauthor, I can make up words.)

In 1907 Hillaire Belloc published an illustrated book of "Cautionary Tales for Children" which is still quite popular today. But there's a satirical tone to his tales, and they were more for entertainment than for the frightening of children.

The dreadful consequences of childish misbehavior in his tales make us laugh, rather than cringe.

Jim For instance here's the tale of "Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion."

He hadn’t gone a yard when—
Bang! With open Jaws, a Lion sprang.
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now just imagine how it feels
When 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!

You can read more of Hillaire Belloc's tales here  or buy the book here.

Even my beloved AA Milne wrote at least one (albeit charmingly inverted) cautionary tale  which he called DISOBEDIENCE.
James James Morrison Morrison Wetherby George Dupree,
Took great care of his mother, though he was only three.
James James said to his mother, "Mother" he said, said he,
"You must never go down to the end of the town if you don't go down with me."

To find out what happened to James James's naughty mother, click here. And while this has nothing to do with cautionary tales, while I was checking my memory for the poem above (I got it all right) I came across this 1928 recording of AA Milne reading a story from Winnie the Pooh, and thought you might find it interesting. The actual recording starts almost a minute in so if you want to skip the musical intro . . 

I've barely touched on the possibilities of the topic, but perhaps I've whetted your appetite to dig up some more of these fascinating and often gruesome tales. So what about you — do you have a favorite cautionary tale? Or one you hated? And what about the modern era — are there cautionary tales that need to be written for today's fraught times? Perhaps one about using mobile phones . . .

 

 

125 thoughts on “Cautionary Tales”

  1. Wow! I just sent up a prayer of thanks to my mother in heaven for never telling us any of these stories. Some of the bedtime stories she told us were scary or gruesome, but always had happy endings.
    I do remember a song that was popular many years ago named THE SNAKE. It was about a woman who found a half frozen snake on the way to work. She took the snake in and warmed it up and fed it. To thank her, the snake bit her. As she was dying she asked the snake why he did that. The snake says “Hey, I’m a snake.” I guess the moral was be careful who you take in.
    I don’t know about modern day stories about texting and driving. The real life horror stores don’t seem to make much difference to many people.

    Reply
  2. Wow! I just sent up a prayer of thanks to my mother in heaven for never telling us any of these stories. Some of the bedtime stories she told us were scary or gruesome, but always had happy endings.
    I do remember a song that was popular many years ago named THE SNAKE. It was about a woman who found a half frozen snake on the way to work. She took the snake in and warmed it up and fed it. To thank her, the snake bit her. As she was dying she asked the snake why he did that. The snake says “Hey, I’m a snake.” I guess the moral was be careful who you take in.
    I don’t know about modern day stories about texting and driving. The real life horror stores don’t seem to make much difference to many people.

    Reply
  3. Wow! I just sent up a prayer of thanks to my mother in heaven for never telling us any of these stories. Some of the bedtime stories she told us were scary or gruesome, but always had happy endings.
    I do remember a song that was popular many years ago named THE SNAKE. It was about a woman who found a half frozen snake on the way to work. She took the snake in and warmed it up and fed it. To thank her, the snake bit her. As she was dying she asked the snake why he did that. The snake says “Hey, I’m a snake.” I guess the moral was be careful who you take in.
    I don’t know about modern day stories about texting and driving. The real life horror stores don’t seem to make much difference to many people.

    Reply
  4. Wow! I just sent up a prayer of thanks to my mother in heaven for never telling us any of these stories. Some of the bedtime stories she told us were scary or gruesome, but always had happy endings.
    I do remember a song that was popular many years ago named THE SNAKE. It was about a woman who found a half frozen snake on the way to work. She took the snake in and warmed it up and fed it. To thank her, the snake bit her. As she was dying she asked the snake why he did that. The snake says “Hey, I’m a snake.” I guess the moral was be careful who you take in.
    I don’t know about modern day stories about texting and driving. The real life horror stores don’t seem to make much difference to many people.

    Reply
  5. Wow! I just sent up a prayer of thanks to my mother in heaven for never telling us any of these stories. Some of the bedtime stories she told us were scary or gruesome, but always had happy endings.
    I do remember a song that was popular many years ago named THE SNAKE. It was about a woman who found a half frozen snake on the way to work. She took the snake in and warmed it up and fed it. To thank her, the snake bit her. As she was dying she asked the snake why he did that. The snake says “Hey, I’m a snake.” I guess the moral was be careful who you take in.
    I don’t know about modern day stories about texting and driving. The real life horror stores don’t seem to make much difference to many people.

    Reply
  6. I still remember with horror a Hans Christian Andersen tale about a little girl who trod on a loaf. She wanted to keep her new shoes clean, and she tossed the bread into the puddle so she could walk across without getting her shoes wet. She stuck to the loaf, sank down through the puddle, and snakes and toads crawled all over her.
    It gave me nightmares then and still gives me shivers today.

    Reply
  7. I still remember with horror a Hans Christian Andersen tale about a little girl who trod on a loaf. She wanted to keep her new shoes clean, and she tossed the bread into the puddle so she could walk across without getting her shoes wet. She stuck to the loaf, sank down through the puddle, and snakes and toads crawled all over her.
    It gave me nightmares then and still gives me shivers today.

    Reply
  8. I still remember with horror a Hans Christian Andersen tale about a little girl who trod on a loaf. She wanted to keep her new shoes clean, and she tossed the bread into the puddle so she could walk across without getting her shoes wet. She stuck to the loaf, sank down through the puddle, and snakes and toads crawled all over her.
    It gave me nightmares then and still gives me shivers today.

    Reply
  9. I still remember with horror a Hans Christian Andersen tale about a little girl who trod on a loaf. She wanted to keep her new shoes clean, and she tossed the bread into the puddle so she could walk across without getting her shoes wet. She stuck to the loaf, sank down through the puddle, and snakes and toads crawled all over her.
    It gave me nightmares then and still gives me shivers today.

    Reply
  10. I still remember with horror a Hans Christian Andersen tale about a little girl who trod on a loaf. She wanted to keep her new shoes clean, and she tossed the bread into the puddle so she could walk across without getting her shoes wet. She stuck to the loaf, sank down through the puddle, and snakes and toads crawled all over her.
    It gave me nightmares then and still gives me shivers today.

    Reply
  11. An interesting post. I was lucky in that I grew up without meeting thee.
    I always liked “Disobedience.” It is so exaggerated tat I found it funny.

    Reply
  12. An interesting post. I was lucky in that I grew up without meeting thee.
    I always liked “Disobedience.” It is so exaggerated tat I found it funny.

    Reply
  13. An interesting post. I was lucky in that I grew up without meeting thee.
    I always liked “Disobedience.” It is so exaggerated tat I found it funny.

    Reply
  14. An interesting post. I was lucky in that I grew up without meeting thee.
    I always liked “Disobedience.” It is so exaggerated tat I found it funny.

    Reply
  15. An interesting post. I was lucky in that I grew up without meeting thee.
    I always liked “Disobedience.” It is so exaggerated tat I found it funny.

    Reply
  16. Mary what a great song. I’ve never heard it, but I’m off now to chase it up. As for texting and driving . . . yes, I see it all the time. Crazy stuff. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

    Reply
  17. Mary what a great song. I’ve never heard it, but I’m off now to chase it up. As for texting and driving . . . yes, I see it all the time. Crazy stuff. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

    Reply
  18. Mary what a great song. I’ve never heard it, but I’m off now to chase it up. As for texting and driving . . . yes, I see it all the time. Crazy stuff. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

    Reply
  19. Mary what a great song. I’ve never heard it, but I’m off now to chase it up. As for texting and driving . . . yes, I see it all the time. Crazy stuff. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

    Reply
  20. Mary what a great song. I’ve never heard it, but I’m off now to chase it up. As for texting and driving . . . yes, I see it all the time. Crazy stuff. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

    Reply
  21. Lillian, that Hans Christian Andersen was a pretty gory fellow, wasn’t he? He wrote The Red Shoes, which still upsets me and makes me angry. A little girl horribly tortured for the crime of wanting pretty shoes. And every time I see that beautiful statue of the Little Mermaid I shiver. Bah humbug to him, say I.

    Reply
  22. Lillian, that Hans Christian Andersen was a pretty gory fellow, wasn’t he? He wrote The Red Shoes, which still upsets me and makes me angry. A little girl horribly tortured for the crime of wanting pretty shoes. And every time I see that beautiful statue of the Little Mermaid I shiver. Bah humbug to him, say I.

    Reply
  23. Lillian, that Hans Christian Andersen was a pretty gory fellow, wasn’t he? He wrote The Red Shoes, which still upsets me and makes me angry. A little girl horribly tortured for the crime of wanting pretty shoes. And every time I see that beautiful statue of the Little Mermaid I shiver. Bah humbug to him, say I.

    Reply
  24. Lillian, that Hans Christian Andersen was a pretty gory fellow, wasn’t he? He wrote The Red Shoes, which still upsets me and makes me angry. A little girl horribly tortured for the crime of wanting pretty shoes. And every time I see that beautiful statue of the Little Mermaid I shiver. Bah humbug to him, say I.

    Reply
  25. Lillian, that Hans Christian Andersen was a pretty gory fellow, wasn’t he? He wrote The Red Shoes, which still upsets me and makes me angry. A little girl horribly tortured for the crime of wanting pretty shoes. And every time I see that beautiful statue of the Little Mermaid I shiver. Bah humbug to him, say I.

    Reply
  26. Sue, I love “Disobedience” — particularly the bit “King John put up a notice, LOST, STOLEN or STRAYED, James James Morrison’s mother seems to have been mislaid. Last seen wandering vaguely, quite of her own accord. She went right down to the end of the town. Forty shillings reward.”
    So charming and funny, I agree.

    Reply
  27. Sue, I love “Disobedience” — particularly the bit “King John put up a notice, LOST, STOLEN or STRAYED, James James Morrison’s mother seems to have been mislaid. Last seen wandering vaguely, quite of her own accord. She went right down to the end of the town. Forty shillings reward.”
    So charming and funny, I agree.

    Reply
  28. Sue, I love “Disobedience” — particularly the bit “King John put up a notice, LOST, STOLEN or STRAYED, James James Morrison’s mother seems to have been mislaid. Last seen wandering vaguely, quite of her own accord. She went right down to the end of the town. Forty shillings reward.”
    So charming and funny, I agree.

    Reply
  29. Sue, I love “Disobedience” — particularly the bit “King John put up a notice, LOST, STOLEN or STRAYED, James James Morrison’s mother seems to have been mislaid. Last seen wandering vaguely, quite of her own accord. She went right down to the end of the town. Forty shillings reward.”
    So charming and funny, I agree.

    Reply
  30. Sue, I love “Disobedience” — particularly the bit “King John put up a notice, LOST, STOLEN or STRAYED, James James Morrison’s mother seems to have been mislaid. Last seen wandering vaguely, quite of her own accord. She went right down to the end of the town. Forty shillings reward.”
    So charming and funny, I agree.

    Reply
  31. I remember nursery rhymes which had a simillar effect to cautionary tales.For example:
    Doctor Foster went to Gloucester,
    In a shower of rain;
    He stepped in a puddle,
    Right up to his middle,
    And never went there again
    Perhaps this was a warning of potholes in 19th century England but might still be relevant to some remote country lanes that I can think of!
    To stimulate a competitive spirit, maybe readers could develop simillar modern cautionary rhymes or tales and post here …. a suitable prize for the best would be a nice incentive! *LOL*

    Reply
  32. I remember nursery rhymes which had a simillar effect to cautionary tales.For example:
    Doctor Foster went to Gloucester,
    In a shower of rain;
    He stepped in a puddle,
    Right up to his middle,
    And never went there again
    Perhaps this was a warning of potholes in 19th century England but might still be relevant to some remote country lanes that I can think of!
    To stimulate a competitive spirit, maybe readers could develop simillar modern cautionary rhymes or tales and post here …. a suitable prize for the best would be a nice incentive! *LOL*

    Reply
  33. I remember nursery rhymes which had a simillar effect to cautionary tales.For example:
    Doctor Foster went to Gloucester,
    In a shower of rain;
    He stepped in a puddle,
    Right up to his middle,
    And never went there again
    Perhaps this was a warning of potholes in 19th century England but might still be relevant to some remote country lanes that I can think of!
    To stimulate a competitive spirit, maybe readers could develop simillar modern cautionary rhymes or tales and post here …. a suitable prize for the best would be a nice incentive! *LOL*

    Reply
  34. I remember nursery rhymes which had a simillar effect to cautionary tales.For example:
    Doctor Foster went to Gloucester,
    In a shower of rain;
    He stepped in a puddle,
    Right up to his middle,
    And never went there again
    Perhaps this was a warning of potholes in 19th century England but might still be relevant to some remote country lanes that I can think of!
    To stimulate a competitive spirit, maybe readers could develop simillar modern cautionary rhymes or tales and post here …. a suitable prize for the best would be a nice incentive! *LOL*

    Reply
  35. I remember nursery rhymes which had a simillar effect to cautionary tales.For example:
    Doctor Foster went to Gloucester,
    In a shower of rain;
    He stepped in a puddle,
    Right up to his middle,
    And never went there again
    Perhaps this was a warning of potholes in 19th century England but might still be relevant to some remote country lanes that I can think of!
    To stimulate a competitive spirit, maybe readers could develop simillar modern cautionary rhymes or tales and post here …. a suitable prize for the best would be a nice incentive! *LOL*

    Reply
  36. I grew up with Dr Foster, too, and always wondered about that enormously deep puddle. I suppose it was a warning against that perennial childhood delight of jumping into puddles. But when I wrote the quiz for the pronunciation of some English place names I wondered if it was also a way of teaching people that Gloucester wasn’t pronounced Gloo-ses-ter but Gloster.
    Speaking of childhood delights with puddles — have you seen this delightful video of a little kid and the joy of puddledom? Makes me smile every time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN-MjUC4f9k

    Reply
  37. I grew up with Dr Foster, too, and always wondered about that enormously deep puddle. I suppose it was a warning against that perennial childhood delight of jumping into puddles. But when I wrote the quiz for the pronunciation of some English place names I wondered if it was also a way of teaching people that Gloucester wasn’t pronounced Gloo-ses-ter but Gloster.
    Speaking of childhood delights with puddles — have you seen this delightful video of a little kid and the joy of puddledom? Makes me smile every time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN-MjUC4f9k

    Reply
  38. I grew up with Dr Foster, too, and always wondered about that enormously deep puddle. I suppose it was a warning against that perennial childhood delight of jumping into puddles. But when I wrote the quiz for the pronunciation of some English place names I wondered if it was also a way of teaching people that Gloucester wasn’t pronounced Gloo-ses-ter but Gloster.
    Speaking of childhood delights with puddles — have you seen this delightful video of a little kid and the joy of puddledom? Makes me smile every time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN-MjUC4f9k

    Reply
  39. I grew up with Dr Foster, too, and always wondered about that enormously deep puddle. I suppose it was a warning against that perennial childhood delight of jumping into puddles. But when I wrote the quiz for the pronunciation of some English place names I wondered if it was also a way of teaching people that Gloucester wasn’t pronounced Gloo-ses-ter but Gloster.
    Speaking of childhood delights with puddles — have you seen this delightful video of a little kid and the joy of puddledom? Makes me smile every time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN-MjUC4f9k

    Reply
  40. I grew up with Dr Foster, too, and always wondered about that enormously deep puddle. I suppose it was a warning against that perennial childhood delight of jumping into puddles. But when I wrote the quiz for the pronunciation of some English place names I wondered if it was also a way of teaching people that Gloucester wasn’t pronounced Gloo-ses-ter but Gloster.
    Speaking of childhood delights with puddles — have you seen this delightful video of a little kid and the joy of puddledom? Makes me smile every time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN-MjUC4f9k

    Reply
  41. Anne, I blame it all on the Danny Kaye movie. No one who just read the stories could possibly think that children enjoy them. (Now grisly tales where the kids/younger brother/daughter come out on top—that’s a whole ‘nother ball game!)

    Reply
  42. Anne, I blame it all on the Danny Kaye movie. No one who just read the stories could possibly think that children enjoy them. (Now grisly tales where the kids/younger brother/daughter come out on top—that’s a whole ‘nother ball game!)

    Reply
  43. Anne, I blame it all on the Danny Kaye movie. No one who just read the stories could possibly think that children enjoy them. (Now grisly tales where the kids/younger brother/daughter come out on top—that’s a whole ‘nother ball game!)

    Reply
  44. Anne, I blame it all on the Danny Kaye movie. No one who just read the stories could possibly think that children enjoy them. (Now grisly tales where the kids/younger brother/daughter come out on top—that’s a whole ‘nother ball game!)

    Reply
  45. Anne, I blame it all on the Danny Kaye movie. No one who just read the stories could possibly think that children enjoy them. (Now grisly tales where the kids/younger brother/daughter come out on top—that’s a whole ‘nother ball game!)

    Reply
  46. Thanks for the two links Anne. The child with the puddle reminds me of my grand daughter 10 years ago. How they change over the years!
    I grew up in a village about 15 miles from Gloucester so no probs with the pronunciation. I was in Gloucester cathedral a week ago …. its one of my favorites. It has a small whispering gallery reminiscent of St Pauls in London and kids love to whisper to each other when located at the two ends. I guess I particularly like the gallery because I once wrote a paper on whispering gallery modes in the optical regime. Humbling to know that the ancients were already familiar with some of these ‘modern’ concepts!

    Reply
  47. Thanks for the two links Anne. The child with the puddle reminds me of my grand daughter 10 years ago. How they change over the years!
    I grew up in a village about 15 miles from Gloucester so no probs with the pronunciation. I was in Gloucester cathedral a week ago …. its one of my favorites. It has a small whispering gallery reminiscent of St Pauls in London and kids love to whisper to each other when located at the two ends. I guess I particularly like the gallery because I once wrote a paper on whispering gallery modes in the optical regime. Humbling to know that the ancients were already familiar with some of these ‘modern’ concepts!

    Reply
  48. Thanks for the two links Anne. The child with the puddle reminds me of my grand daughter 10 years ago. How they change over the years!
    I grew up in a village about 15 miles from Gloucester so no probs with the pronunciation. I was in Gloucester cathedral a week ago …. its one of my favorites. It has a small whispering gallery reminiscent of St Pauls in London and kids love to whisper to each other when located at the two ends. I guess I particularly like the gallery because I once wrote a paper on whispering gallery modes in the optical regime. Humbling to know that the ancients were already familiar with some of these ‘modern’ concepts!

    Reply
  49. Thanks for the two links Anne. The child with the puddle reminds me of my grand daughter 10 years ago. How they change over the years!
    I grew up in a village about 15 miles from Gloucester so no probs with the pronunciation. I was in Gloucester cathedral a week ago …. its one of my favorites. It has a small whispering gallery reminiscent of St Pauls in London and kids love to whisper to each other when located at the two ends. I guess I particularly like the gallery because I once wrote a paper on whispering gallery modes in the optical regime. Humbling to know that the ancients were already familiar with some of these ‘modern’ concepts!

    Reply
  50. Thanks for the two links Anne. The child with the puddle reminds me of my grand daughter 10 years ago. How they change over the years!
    I grew up in a village about 15 miles from Gloucester so no probs with the pronunciation. I was in Gloucester cathedral a week ago …. its one of my favorites. It has a small whispering gallery reminiscent of St Pauls in London and kids love to whisper to each other when located at the two ends. I guess I particularly like the gallery because I once wrote a paper on whispering gallery modes in the optical regime. Humbling to know that the ancients were already familiar with some of these ‘modern’ concepts!

    Reply
  51. It seems to me the tomboy had the best fate, if no one else thought so. She probably lived a very happy life, climbing aloft, and catching the wind in her face.
    I remember reading (and hearing) cautionary tales by “Uncle Arthur” when I was a child, but they were the gently moral type: no blood was ever shed, and the naughty child was only made to take the proper consequences of his or her actions.
    One story I recall in particular was of a very greedy little girl who always wanted the best of everything at dinner, and snatched it. So that one evening at dinner, her longsuffering family “changed” the nature of the best looking items–the biggest piece of cake, etc., by inserting something sour or salty or unappetizing (but edible) into what they knew she would snatch. Needless to say, she learned her error. And the lesson in table manners stuck–with me.

    Reply
  52. It seems to me the tomboy had the best fate, if no one else thought so. She probably lived a very happy life, climbing aloft, and catching the wind in her face.
    I remember reading (and hearing) cautionary tales by “Uncle Arthur” when I was a child, but they were the gently moral type: no blood was ever shed, and the naughty child was only made to take the proper consequences of his or her actions.
    One story I recall in particular was of a very greedy little girl who always wanted the best of everything at dinner, and snatched it. So that one evening at dinner, her longsuffering family “changed” the nature of the best looking items–the biggest piece of cake, etc., by inserting something sour or salty or unappetizing (but edible) into what they knew she would snatch. Needless to say, she learned her error. And the lesson in table manners stuck–with me.

    Reply
  53. It seems to me the tomboy had the best fate, if no one else thought so. She probably lived a very happy life, climbing aloft, and catching the wind in her face.
    I remember reading (and hearing) cautionary tales by “Uncle Arthur” when I was a child, but they were the gently moral type: no blood was ever shed, and the naughty child was only made to take the proper consequences of his or her actions.
    One story I recall in particular was of a very greedy little girl who always wanted the best of everything at dinner, and snatched it. So that one evening at dinner, her longsuffering family “changed” the nature of the best looking items–the biggest piece of cake, etc., by inserting something sour or salty or unappetizing (but edible) into what they knew she would snatch. Needless to say, she learned her error. And the lesson in table manners stuck–with me.

    Reply
  54. It seems to me the tomboy had the best fate, if no one else thought so. She probably lived a very happy life, climbing aloft, and catching the wind in her face.
    I remember reading (and hearing) cautionary tales by “Uncle Arthur” when I was a child, but they were the gently moral type: no blood was ever shed, and the naughty child was only made to take the proper consequences of his or her actions.
    One story I recall in particular was of a very greedy little girl who always wanted the best of everything at dinner, and snatched it. So that one evening at dinner, her longsuffering family “changed” the nature of the best looking items–the biggest piece of cake, etc., by inserting something sour or salty or unappetizing (but edible) into what they knew she would snatch. Needless to say, she learned her error. And the lesson in table manners stuck–with me.

    Reply
  55. It seems to me the tomboy had the best fate, if no one else thought so. She probably lived a very happy life, climbing aloft, and catching the wind in her face.
    I remember reading (and hearing) cautionary tales by “Uncle Arthur” when I was a child, but they were the gently moral type: no blood was ever shed, and the naughty child was only made to take the proper consequences of his or her actions.
    One story I recall in particular was of a very greedy little girl who always wanted the best of everything at dinner, and snatched it. So that one evening at dinner, her longsuffering family “changed” the nature of the best looking items–the biggest piece of cake, etc., by inserting something sour or salty or unappetizing (but edible) into what they knew she would snatch. Needless to say, she learned her error. And the lesson in table manners stuck–with me.

    Reply
  56. My parents were German speaking, and we had Struwwelpeter in the house. However I don’t remember them ever reading it to us. My brother and I used to look at the illustrations though, and it was quite gruesome! We also had a lovely version of “Peter and the Wolf” narrated by Cyril Ritchard. It’s also a cautionary tale.

    Reply
  57. My parents were German speaking, and we had Struwwelpeter in the house. However I don’t remember them ever reading it to us. My brother and I used to look at the illustrations though, and it was quite gruesome! We also had a lovely version of “Peter and the Wolf” narrated by Cyril Ritchard. It’s also a cautionary tale.

    Reply
  58. My parents were German speaking, and we had Struwwelpeter in the house. However I don’t remember them ever reading it to us. My brother and I used to look at the illustrations though, and it was quite gruesome! We also had a lovely version of “Peter and the Wolf” narrated by Cyril Ritchard. It’s also a cautionary tale.

    Reply
  59. My parents were German speaking, and we had Struwwelpeter in the house. However I don’t remember them ever reading it to us. My brother and I used to look at the illustrations though, and it was quite gruesome! We also had a lovely version of “Peter and the Wolf” narrated by Cyril Ritchard. It’s also a cautionary tale.

    Reply
  60. My parents were German speaking, and we had Struwwelpeter in the house. However I don’t remember them ever reading it to us. My brother and I used to look at the illustrations though, and it was quite gruesome! We also had a lovely version of “Peter and the Wolf” narrated by Cyril Ritchard. It’s also a cautionary tale.

    Reply
  61. I still have my childhood copies of the Coles Funny Picture Books with Der Struwwelpeter in them. Horrifying! And oh the perils of lighting a match! To this day I’m nervous of candles around the house…

    Reply
  62. I still have my childhood copies of the Coles Funny Picture Books with Der Struwwelpeter in them. Horrifying! And oh the perils of lighting a match! To this day I’m nervous of candles around the house…

    Reply
  63. I still have my childhood copies of the Coles Funny Picture Books with Der Struwwelpeter in them. Horrifying! And oh the perils of lighting a match! To this day I’m nervous of candles around the house…

    Reply
  64. I still have my childhood copies of the Coles Funny Picture Books with Der Struwwelpeter in them. Horrifying! And oh the perils of lighting a match! To this day I’m nervous of candles around the house…

    Reply
  65. I still have my childhood copies of the Coles Funny Picture Books with Der Struwwelpeter in them. Horrifying! And oh the perils of lighting a match! To this day I’m nervous of candles around the house…

    Reply
  66. Lucy, the thing that most disturbed me about the tomboy tale was that her gender was changed quietly in the night, and also in the night, she was SOLD to the ship’s captain, also in the night — both of which suggest to me that it was without her consent.
    The greedy little girl story is the kind of cautionary tale that I approve of. Gentle morals are fine. It’s the really nasty, gory and brutal ones I loathe.

    Reply
  67. Lucy, the thing that most disturbed me about the tomboy tale was that her gender was changed quietly in the night, and also in the night, she was SOLD to the ship’s captain, also in the night — both of which suggest to me that it was without her consent.
    The greedy little girl story is the kind of cautionary tale that I approve of. Gentle morals are fine. It’s the really nasty, gory and brutal ones I loathe.

    Reply
  68. Lucy, the thing that most disturbed me about the tomboy tale was that her gender was changed quietly in the night, and also in the night, she was SOLD to the ship’s captain, also in the night — both of which suggest to me that it was without her consent.
    The greedy little girl story is the kind of cautionary tale that I approve of. Gentle morals are fine. It’s the really nasty, gory and brutal ones I loathe.

    Reply
  69. Lucy, the thing that most disturbed me about the tomboy tale was that her gender was changed quietly in the night, and also in the night, she was SOLD to the ship’s captain, also in the night — both of which suggest to me that it was without her consent.
    The greedy little girl story is the kind of cautionary tale that I approve of. Gentle morals are fine. It’s the really nasty, gory and brutal ones I loathe.

    Reply
  70. Lucy, the thing that most disturbed me about the tomboy tale was that her gender was changed quietly in the night, and also in the night, she was SOLD to the ship’s captain, also in the night — both of which suggest to me that it was without her consent.
    The greedy little girl story is the kind of cautionary tale that I approve of. Gentle morals are fine. It’s the really nasty, gory and brutal ones I loathe.

    Reply
  71. Karin, the boy who cried wolf is a good sort of cautionary tale, I think. And I loved the music of Peter and the Wolf — my mother had a record of it, and we often played it. Your comment prompted me to go looking on the web for it and I found this delightful version, with an intro of the various characters/instruments by the conductor. Thanks for the reminder.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfM7Y9Pcdzw

    Reply
  72. Karin, the boy who cried wolf is a good sort of cautionary tale, I think. And I loved the music of Peter and the Wolf — my mother had a record of it, and we often played it. Your comment prompted me to go looking on the web for it and I found this delightful version, with an intro of the various characters/instruments by the conductor. Thanks for the reminder.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfM7Y9Pcdzw

    Reply
  73. Karin, the boy who cried wolf is a good sort of cautionary tale, I think. And I loved the music of Peter and the Wolf — my mother had a record of it, and we often played it. Your comment prompted me to go looking on the web for it and I found this delightful version, with an intro of the various characters/instruments by the conductor. Thanks for the reminder.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfM7Y9Pcdzw

    Reply
  74. Karin, the boy who cried wolf is a good sort of cautionary tale, I think. And I loved the music of Peter and the Wolf — my mother had a record of it, and we often played it. Your comment prompted me to go looking on the web for it and I found this delightful version, with an intro of the various characters/instruments by the conductor. Thanks for the reminder.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfM7Y9Pcdzw

    Reply
  75. Karin, the boy who cried wolf is a good sort of cautionary tale, I think. And I loved the music of Peter and the Wolf — my mother had a record of it, and we often played it. Your comment prompted me to go looking on the web for it and I found this delightful version, with an intro of the various characters/instruments by the conductor. Thanks for the reminder.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfM7Y9Pcdzw

    Reply
  76. Ooh, Matilda and the Matches — pretty close to Malvina and the Matches, isn’t it? *g* And you’re right to be careful of candles around the house. A friend of mine used to light candles and put them everywhere . . . until she set fire to her curtains one night. Could have been a disaster, but luckily it was only a mishap.
    I hadn’t realized the Der Struwwelpeter stories had been incorporated into the Coles Funny Picture Books. I never had them growing up, but I do have an old copy of one I bought secondhand some years ago.

    Reply
  77. Ooh, Matilda and the Matches — pretty close to Malvina and the Matches, isn’t it? *g* And you’re right to be careful of candles around the house. A friend of mine used to light candles and put them everywhere . . . until she set fire to her curtains one night. Could have been a disaster, but luckily it was only a mishap.
    I hadn’t realized the Der Struwwelpeter stories had been incorporated into the Coles Funny Picture Books. I never had them growing up, but I do have an old copy of one I bought secondhand some years ago.

    Reply
  78. Ooh, Matilda and the Matches — pretty close to Malvina and the Matches, isn’t it? *g* And you’re right to be careful of candles around the house. A friend of mine used to light candles and put them everywhere . . . until she set fire to her curtains one night. Could have been a disaster, but luckily it was only a mishap.
    I hadn’t realized the Der Struwwelpeter stories had been incorporated into the Coles Funny Picture Books. I never had them growing up, but I do have an old copy of one I bought secondhand some years ago.

    Reply
  79. Ooh, Matilda and the Matches — pretty close to Malvina and the Matches, isn’t it? *g* And you’re right to be careful of candles around the house. A friend of mine used to light candles and put them everywhere . . . until she set fire to her curtains one night. Could have been a disaster, but luckily it was only a mishap.
    I hadn’t realized the Der Struwwelpeter stories had been incorporated into the Coles Funny Picture Books. I never had them growing up, but I do have an old copy of one I bought secondhand some years ago.

    Reply
  80. Ooh, Matilda and the Matches — pretty close to Malvina and the Matches, isn’t it? *g* And you’re right to be careful of candles around the house. A friend of mine used to light candles and put them everywhere . . . until she set fire to her curtains one night. Could have been a disaster, but luckily it was only a mishap.
    I hadn’t realized the Der Struwwelpeter stories had been incorporated into the Coles Funny Picture Books. I never had them growing up, but I do have an old copy of one I bought secondhand some years ago.

    Reply
  81. You have a point, but somehow, I couldn’t read it that way. If she were an earl’s daughter, she must have been rather miserable as a girl. And, of course, unless “they” were fairies with magical powers, she would still be a girl underneath her boy’s clothes.
    The last verse actually says they paid the captain to take her away–not a positive thing, but not, I have to feel, terribly different from ‘prenticing a child out. There’s no hint of darkness in the illustrations, or suggestion that she would be mistreated on the ship. Of course, we’re all “reading” a lot into a simple little ballad-type poem, but I like to think she found her true calling, and maybe got to be a captain herself some fine day. 🙂
    (Or, the captain discovers her true identity, adopts her as his daughter, she inherits his ship… So many fun possibilities for a happy ending here.)

    Reply
  82. You have a point, but somehow, I couldn’t read it that way. If she were an earl’s daughter, she must have been rather miserable as a girl. And, of course, unless “they” were fairies with magical powers, she would still be a girl underneath her boy’s clothes.
    The last verse actually says they paid the captain to take her away–not a positive thing, but not, I have to feel, terribly different from ‘prenticing a child out. There’s no hint of darkness in the illustrations, or suggestion that she would be mistreated on the ship. Of course, we’re all “reading” a lot into a simple little ballad-type poem, but I like to think she found her true calling, and maybe got to be a captain herself some fine day. 🙂
    (Or, the captain discovers her true identity, adopts her as his daughter, she inherits his ship… So many fun possibilities for a happy ending here.)

    Reply
  83. You have a point, but somehow, I couldn’t read it that way. If she were an earl’s daughter, she must have been rather miserable as a girl. And, of course, unless “they” were fairies with magical powers, she would still be a girl underneath her boy’s clothes.
    The last verse actually says they paid the captain to take her away–not a positive thing, but not, I have to feel, terribly different from ‘prenticing a child out. There’s no hint of darkness in the illustrations, or suggestion that she would be mistreated on the ship. Of course, we’re all “reading” a lot into a simple little ballad-type poem, but I like to think she found her true calling, and maybe got to be a captain herself some fine day. 🙂
    (Or, the captain discovers her true identity, adopts her as his daughter, she inherits his ship… So many fun possibilities for a happy ending here.)

    Reply
  84. You have a point, but somehow, I couldn’t read it that way. If she were an earl’s daughter, she must have been rather miserable as a girl. And, of course, unless “they” were fairies with magical powers, she would still be a girl underneath her boy’s clothes.
    The last verse actually says they paid the captain to take her away–not a positive thing, but not, I have to feel, terribly different from ‘prenticing a child out. There’s no hint of darkness in the illustrations, or suggestion that she would be mistreated on the ship. Of course, we’re all “reading” a lot into a simple little ballad-type poem, but I like to think she found her true calling, and maybe got to be a captain herself some fine day. 🙂
    (Or, the captain discovers her true identity, adopts her as his daughter, she inherits his ship… So many fun possibilities for a happy ending here.)

    Reply
  85. You have a point, but somehow, I couldn’t read it that way. If she were an earl’s daughter, she must have been rather miserable as a girl. And, of course, unless “they” were fairies with magical powers, she would still be a girl underneath her boy’s clothes.
    The last verse actually says they paid the captain to take her away–not a positive thing, but not, I have to feel, terribly different from ‘prenticing a child out. There’s no hint of darkness in the illustrations, or suggestion that she would be mistreated on the ship. Of course, we’re all “reading” a lot into a simple little ballad-type poem, but I like to think she found her true calling, and maybe got to be a captain herself some fine day. 🙂
    (Or, the captain discovers her true identity, adopts her as his daughter, she inherits his ship… So many fun possibilities for a happy ending here.)

    Reply
  86. No, I’m wrong, there is a slight woe-is-me expression as she’s taking her bag away to the ship, but I’d have to call that artistic license. 😛 She’s just about to discover a whole new world of adventure….
    As an aside, no, I would never approve of threatening children with that kind of a “moral.” It’s only a potentially fun story when you’re an adult and you can write the happy ending yourself.

    Reply
  87. No, I’m wrong, there is a slight woe-is-me expression as she’s taking her bag away to the ship, but I’d have to call that artistic license. 😛 She’s just about to discover a whole new world of adventure….
    As an aside, no, I would never approve of threatening children with that kind of a “moral.” It’s only a potentially fun story when you’re an adult and you can write the happy ending yourself.

    Reply
  88. No, I’m wrong, there is a slight woe-is-me expression as she’s taking her bag away to the ship, but I’d have to call that artistic license. 😛 She’s just about to discover a whole new world of adventure….
    As an aside, no, I would never approve of threatening children with that kind of a “moral.” It’s only a potentially fun story when you’re an adult and you can write the happy ending yourself.

    Reply
  89. No, I’m wrong, there is a slight woe-is-me expression as she’s taking her bag away to the ship, but I’d have to call that artistic license. 😛 She’s just about to discover a whole new world of adventure….
    As an aside, no, I would never approve of threatening children with that kind of a “moral.” It’s only a potentially fun story when you’re an adult and you can write the happy ending yourself.

    Reply
  90. No, I’m wrong, there is a slight woe-is-me expression as she’s taking her bag away to the ship, but I’d have to call that artistic license. 😛 She’s just about to discover a whole new world of adventure….
    As an aside, no, I would never approve of threatening children with that kind of a “moral.” It’s only a potentially fun story when you’re an adult and you can write the happy ending yourself.

    Reply

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