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Title: A century of children's books
Author: Barry, Florence V.
Language: English
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                                A CENTURY
                           OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS

                            FLORENCE V. BARRY
                                 B. LITT.

                            METHUEN & CO. LTD.
                          36 ESSEX STREET W. C.

                        _First Published in 1922_


This book was begun at Oxford before the War, when I had the great
privilege of being a student in Sir Walter Raleigh’s class. Through his
generous encouragement, it was continued at intervals and under many
difficulties; and if he had not found some things to like in it, I should
hardly venture to put it forth in its present shape.

It is true that the interest of great men in little books (a token of
romance since the eighteenth century) is no gauge of public favour; but
the history of children’s books is in some sort a record of childhood.
Lovers of children may be willing to look through the shelves of old
nurseries, if only for the portraits.

The farther one goes upon such small business, the more intricate it
seems; and although I began with some knowledge of the treasures that
Mrs. Field had unearthed in her study of _The Child and His Book_, I had
no idea there were so many of these books, or that I should find it so
difficult to choose. In this I was helped by the older reprints, by the
collections of Mr. E. V. Lucas, and later by Mr. Harvey Darton’s chapter
in the _Cambridge History of English Literature_.

The book itself is a poor acknowledgment of my gratitude to Oxford: to
Sir Charles Firth and Mr. Nichol Smith for their advice and criticism; to
the late Mr. R. J. E. Tiddy and Mr. Percy Simpson for help in the early
stages; to Miss Helen Darbishire, Miss Janet Spens, and not least to my
fellow students at Somerville who, in the midst of serious things, found
time to be amused.

                                                                  F. V. B.


    CHAP.                                          PAGE

          INTRODUCTION                                1

       I. CHAP-BOOKS AND BALLADS                     13


     III. THE LILLIPUTIAN LIBRARY                    58

      IV. ROUSSEAU AND THE MORAL TALE                85

       V. THE ENGLISH SCHOOL OF ROUSSEAU            105

      VI. DEVICES OF THE MORALIST                   122




    APPENDIX A.—NOTES AND EXTRACTS                  224

        ”    B.—CHRONOLOGICAL LIST                  250



To open a child’s book nowadays is to discover some part of that unknown
world which touches experience at so many points. The city beyond the
clouds, the underground country, all the enchantments of woods and
islands are open to the little traveller. From _The Water Babies_ to
_Peter Pan_ there has been little else in nursery tales but the stuff of

It is hard to believe that the child who read the story of Rosamond and
the Purple Jar, less than a hundred years ago, had no curiosity about
dream countries, no sense of poetry in nature; yet the first sign of a
romantic movement in children’s books was the printing of unknown or
forgotten fairy tales under the title of _The Court of Oberon_, in 1823.
The actual awakening came later, with the nature stories of the Howitts
and the imaginative nonsense of Edward Lear.

A century of little books had passed before a child could read fairy
tales without shame, and the taste for true “histories” prevailed long
after Miss Edgeworth had written her last sequel.

For although there were eighteenth century chap-books that kept alive
old tales of chivalry, these had no proper place on the nursery shelves.
Books written for children were always designed to instruct as well as
to amuse, and it was only because the human interests of the eighteenth
century included children that it became a century of children’s books.

Those that survived the use of their first owners,—a little company
in old sheepskin or flowered paper covers,—are either treasured by
collectors or hidden away in some old library; but some of the best
are still to be had in reprints and collections of “Old-fashioned” or
“Forgotten” children’s books.

The new generation, pressing forward to discover more of the dream
country, cares little for tales that reflect the quiet schooling of its
ancestors; yet the most moral and instructive of these books mark the
child’s escape from a sterner school. It was on his way to the Child’s
Garden that he passed through this town of Georgian dolls’ houses, where,
indeed, he found some rare and curious things.

In the earlier centuries a child made shift with such tales as his elders
chose to tell him. There were few books that he could call his own, and
those were devised to advance him in knowledge or courtesy. Yet the monks
of the eleventh and twelfth centuries had a way of turning the natural
instincts of children to account. They taught Latin by means of imaginary
conversations, and put the raw material of wonder tales into their
instructive “Elucidarium”, a sort of primitive “Child’s Guide” which told
of fabulous beasts and gave miraculous accounts of heaven and earth.

The successors of these old schoolmasters devised a book for parents
which they might share with their children. This was the _Gesta
Romanorum_, a collection of stories put together in Latin about the
fourteenth century to serve as texts for “Moralities”. It became the
popular story-book of the Middle Ages, and a woodcut in the early
editions shows a whole family gathered round the fire on a winter night
telling stories to pass the time.

This was no book for children, even in the days before nurseries; yet it
contained variants of the Arabian Tales, a story that Chaucer afterwards
used for his “History of Constance”, and two strands of the _Merchant of
Venice_ plot.

Travellers’ tales, also shared between men and children, filled a gap
between the truthful records of King Alfred and Caxton’s new-discovered
wealth of romance. Marco Polo and other voyagers brought back stories and
fables from the East; Sir John Mandeville wrote of “the Meruayles of Ynde
and of other diuerse Coûtries”. These cross the border between truth and
fancy much as children do; but children knew them only from hearsay.

Caxton alone, had he been so minded, could have filled a child’s library;
for besides his _Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye_, he printed Sir
Thomas Malory’s _Noble Histories of King Arthur_ with many romances of
his own translating and legends and lives of Saints. He was actually the
first printer and editor of the very books which Locke, in the eighteenth
century, prescribed for children: Æsop’s _Fables_ and _The History of
Reynard the Fox_; but Caxton intended none of these for children. The
_Fables_ showed men their follies; and _Reynard_ was then a satire that
ridiculed unjust rulers under the figures of beasts. For children, he
chose the kind of books that their parents would buy: the instructive
_Parvus et Magnus Chato_, with its woodcut print of a monastery school;
_Stans Puer ad Mensam_, a museum of quaint formalities, and _The Book of
Courtesy_, addressed to “Lytyl John” in “tendre enfancye”.

Thus early did grown-up persons monopolise the pleasures of fiction,
while they prepared handbooks of learning and courtesy for youth.
Chaucer, it will be remembered, wrote a scientific treatise instead of a
story for his little boy; and _The Babees Book_, designed for the royal
wards and pages of the fifteenth century, had not a word of romance or
fable; nothing but precepts of fair behaviour, and lessons that should
teach those “Bele Babees” how to give their reasons smoothly, “in words
that are gentle but compendious”.

There were many such books, nor were they all confined to children of
gentle birth. _The Book of Courtesy_ was for the sons “of gentleman,
yeoman or knave”, and Symon’s _Lesson of Wisdom_ (1500) “for all manner

As for Caxton’s successors, they were content with his ideas about
children’s books; it was simply a choice between manners and learning.
Wynkyn de Worde, though he printed the splendid romance of _Bevis of
Southampton_, gave his child-readers a “Wyse Chylde of Thre Year Old”
that could answer the fearful question: “Sage enfaunt, how is the
skye made?”; and William Copland produced _The Secret of Secrets of
Aristotle_, “very good to teach children to read English”, while he
lavished the adventures of Guy of Warwick upon their parents.

It is true that the child of the sixteenth century had much to compensate
him for a lack of books. If he dwelt in the country, he saw _Robin
Hood_ and _St. George_ played out upon the village green, or if in a
town, he might meet with strange merchantmen in any street. He lived in
an age of practical romance, and could match you the exploits of Guy
or Bevis any day from the adventures of his neighbours. Moreover the
Elizabethan child, if he could not read the old stories, at least had a
chance of hearing them set to a new measure. Puttenham in his _Art of
English Poesie_ (1589) writes of the “Blind Harpers and such like taverne
Minstrels” who sang “stories of old time” to ballad tunes: “the tale of
Sir Topas, the reportes of Bevis of Southampton, Guy of Warwick, Adam
Bell and Clymme of the Clough, and such other old romances or historical

But a boy had to evade his schoolmaster before he could listen to
such things; and the schoolmaster saw to it that he had no English
story-books. The new learning, which poured out its treasures for
scholars, meant little more to the average boy than longer hours of study
and more stripes; and reformers in education, although they looked upon
him as a creature of promise, and were concerned to make his lot more
bearable, came no nearer than their predecessors to the secrets of his

Companies of schoolboy-players,—the children of the Chapel, or of
Paul’s—might make the most of such plays as they could understand; and
the Queen’s wards had times of “honest recreation” when they might tell
each other stories; but their hours with tutors and music-masters would
astonish the youth of these days.

Perhaps the happiest child of the great age of romance was the truant who
could follow some pedlar along the road. For the pedlar’s songs were more
enthralling than his “unbraided wares”; and he had ballads, such as “The
Two Children in the Wood” and “Chevy Chace”, that a child could paste
upon his nursery walls.

There was at least one writer who recognised the pedlar’s claims, and
made him the hero of an instructive book. This was Thomas Newberry, who
in 1563 wrote “A booke in English metre, of the great Marchaunt man
called Dives Pragmaticus, very pretye for chyldren to rede: wherby they
may the better, and more readyer, rede and wryte Wares and Implements, in
this World contayned”.

This merchant knows all crafts and deals in every kind of wares; but he
does it in the manner of Autolycus, calling all men to come and buy. His
“Inkyll, crewell and gay valances fine” perhaps made copy for _A Winter’s
Tale_; his “ouches, brooches and fine aglets for Kynges” might lie in the
pack with

    “Bugle bracelet, necklace amber,
    Perfume for a lady’s chamber”;

and though he had neither songs nor ballads, he spoke in verse and could
find poetry in the “chyselle” and “blade” which Stevenson, more than
three centuries later, praised in his _Child’s Garden_:

    “A chisel, both handle and blade,
    Which _a man who was really a carpenter made_.”

It was a hard day for the men of the road when the Roundhead prevailed
over King Charles. Had the Puritans been gifted with the worldly wisdom
of old religious orders, the pedlar’s songs, interpreted as allegories,
would have passed, with a word or two altered here and there; as it
was, many of these poor merchants were reduced to carrying tracts
that reflected the gloomy spirit of the times. But the seventeenth
century garlands still preserved some of the older ballads, and the
true Autolycus was never without copies of _Tom Thumb_, _The Wise Men
of Gotham_, and other chap-books for the unregenerate. He suffered the
penalties of rogues and vagabonds, and the child shared his disgrace.

George Fox, in his _Warning to all Teachers_, condemns, among other sins
of children, “the telling of Tales, Stories, Jests, Rhimes and Fables”.
The doctrine of Original Sin left no hope of grace by means of books.
Courtesy, as concerning the mere outward forms and carriage of a child,
was held of no account, and instruction itself was abandoned in favour
of “Emblems”, “Warnings”, and morbid “Examples for Youth”: such books,
for example, as James Janeway’s _Token for Children_, which contained
“an exact account of the conversion, holy and exemplary lives and joyful
deaths of several young children”: a literature of denial and negation.

And yet the greatest child’s book of the age was written by a Puritan.
John Bunyan was the first to reconcile the claims of religion and
romance, and he never could have written _The Pilgrim’s Progress_ if he
had not been a good customer of the pedlar in his youth. But in writing
it, Bunyan had no more thought of children than Caxton when he printed
the stories of King Arthur. Both were thinking of grown-up children. And
when, some eight years later, Bunyan tried his hand at a _Book for Boys
and Girls_, he made it a mere collection of “Emblems” in doggerel verse.
The alternative title, _Country Rhimes for Children_, seems to refer to
certain farmyard creatures which he introduced to point analogies even
more absurd than those of the old monkish Bestiaries; but the monks had
sirens and other wonderful things in their natural history. There is
nothing to atone for the dulness of these rhymes; any child would be
better entertained in the Interpreter’s House.

After the Restoration, the pedlar had a better market for his books,
but he also came upon new enemies; for it was then that members of the
Royal Society were beginning to question those “strange and wonderful
Relations” which simple folk, seeing them in print, received as true.

When Shakespeare’s shepherdess asked the pedlar “Is it true, think you?”
he answered “Five justices’ hands at it, and witnesses more than my pack
will hold”; but these men of letters and science accepted no evidence
save that of their own reason, and this was fatal to the common matter
of chap-books. It is the more surprising that one of their number should
have been an unacknowledged maker of children’s books.

John Locke was the first to apply the methods of the Royal Society to
education. He cared neither for creeds nor grammars, followed Montaigne
in denouncing the pedantry of the old schoolmasters, and held with
Rabelais that “the greatest clerks are not the wisest men.”

It is true that his concern for literal truth made him a very imperfect
reader of children’s minds. He never understood the part that imagination
plays in a child’s life, and his plan of education allows no scope for
it; yet he understood children so well on the practical side that every
eighteenth century writer of little books quoted his maxims, despised
romance and produced “fables” that made a certain appeal to childish
interests while they proved the advantages of common sense.

Locke’s book, _Some Thoughts concerning Education_, which he published
in 1693, was put together from the letters he had written during his
exile in Holland, to Edward Clarke; but it suggests notes rather than
letters. Locke so condenses the human element that it reads like a book
of educational prescriptions. The key is to be found in the letters of
his friends, and in the records of his pupil, the third Lord Shaftesbury,
author of the _Characteristics_. Locke was the first earl’s friend and
medical adviser, and for a time had taught his son; the third earl came
to him as “Mr. Anthony” at the age of three, and was his “more peculiar
charge” till he was twelve years old. After the grandfather’s death, they
sent him to Westminster, entirely against Locke’s wish, for he hated
schools; but when “Mr. Anthony” came to write about his childhood, he had
not a good word for “pedants and schoolmasters”; only for Mr. Locke to
whom, next his “immediate parents”, he owed “the highest gratitude and

Men do not write thus of tutors who were not their friends; and doubtless
others could have said the same of Locke: the younger brothers of Lord
Shaftesbury, the Dutch Quaker’s little boy, Arent Furly, a kind of
foster-child of his in Holland, or little Frank Masham, his last pupil,
who was between four and five when Locke came to live with his family.
They all owed him good health and a happy childhood, and it does not
appear that they hankered after the forbidden joys of romance.

Locke’s belief in physical training was a welcome contrast to the average
tutor’s insistence upon books. He put aside the rod, invented games for
his pupils and, as soon as possible, treated them as “rational creatures”.

By reversing the order of Books of Courtesy, he relieved them of rules
and maxims. Virtue stood first in his judgment, then wisdom, then
breeding, and learning last. At heart he was not less concerned for
manners than the old masters of courtesy; but he thought they could only
be acquired by habit and good company. It is the more curious to find
him, in another part of the book, assuming that the right kind of tutor
could teach Virtue and Wisdom as another might teach Latin. Locke himself
came as near as a man could to his ideal of a tutor more wise than
learned, a man of the world that knew how to bear himself in any company;
and it mattered little to his pupils that such a tutor could not be found
for every child.

Intelligent parents found in his published _Thoughts_ some confirmation
of their own experience, and his very inconsistencies made his ideas
seem the more reasonable to them. For it cannot be denied that Locke,
although he believed in teaching children not what, but how to think,
yet fell into the error of impressing facts upon their memory, and facts
that could only be learned from books. His Irish friend Molyneux, on
whose advice the _Thoughts_ were put together, brought up his little
boy according to Locke’s plan, and proved that the system could produce
a rival to Wynkyn de Worde’s Wyse Chylde: one that at five years old
could read perfectly and trace out upon the globes “all the noted parts,
countries and cities of the world”. At six, his knowledge was incredible,
he was “obedient and observant to the nicest particular”, and his father
believed that no child “had ever his passions more perfectly at command”.

There is nothing in Locke’s theory to account for the encyclopædic
knowledge of this child; but in practice he had replaced Latin and Greek
with Geometry, Chronology, the use of the Globes, and even some part of
“the incomparable Mr. Newton’s” Philosophy, so far as it was justified by
“Matter of Fact”.

This helps to explain the little pedantries of later children’s books,
although many of these do not go beyond Locke’s directions for teaching a
child to read.

“There may be Dice and Play-things with the letters on them,” he says,
“to teach Children the Alphabet by Playing; and twenty other Ways may
be found, suitable to their particular Tempers, to make this Kind of
Learning a Sport to them. Thus Children may be cozen’d into a Knowledge
of the Letters....”

If this smacks of artifice, there is no question of his wisdom about
essentials: “If you have any Contests with him, let it be in Matters of
Moment, of Truth and Good Nature; but lay no Task on him about A.B.C.”

About books he is very plain: when “by these gentle Ways” a child begins
to read, “some easy pleasant Book, suited to his Capacity should be put
into his Hands, wherein the Entertainment that he finds might draw him
on, and reward his Pains in Reading, and yet not such as should fill
his Head with perfectly useless Trumpery, or lay the Principles of Vice
and Folly. To this purpose I think Æsop’s Fables the best, which being
Stories apt to delight and entertain a Child, may yet afford useful
Reflections to a grown Man; and if his Memory retain them all his Life
after, he will not repent to find them there, amongst his manly Thoughts
and serious Business”.

Then, after recommending an _Æsop_ with pictures in it, he adds:
“_Reynard the Fox_ is another Book I think may be made Use of to the same
Purpose”. Talking beasts that can be made the mouthpiece of a moralist
are Locke’s nearest approach to the supernatural. In another place, he
admonishes parents to preserve a child’s mind “from all Impressions
and Notions of _Spirits_ and _Goblins_, or any fearful Apprehensions
in the Dark”. Thus the child is to be protected from ghost-stories or
fairy-tales and “cozen’d” into reading what will be useful to him when he
is a man.

Locke knew no other books in English “fit to engage the liking of
children and tempt them to read”; and indeed there were few to know. _The
Seven Wise Masters of Rome_ is an example of what was thought fit for
children. This was a very old sequence of Eastern parables first printed
by Wynkyn de Worde. Francis Kirkman, who translated it from the French
in 1674, declared that it was “held in such estimation in Ireland that
it was always put into the hands of young children immediately after the
horn book”. English copies were common; but the tales had less interest
for children than those of the _Gesta_. “Pedants and Schoolmasters” must
have conspired to keep it in print.

Thus at the close of the seventeenth century the greater number of
children, if they read anything, amused themselves with chap-books
or broadsheets,—all of which, doubtless, came under Locke’s ban as
“perfectly useless Trumpery”; and for those that read no books, in spite
of Locke, there were still tales “of Sprites and Goblins”.



    Children and the Supernatural—Steele’s Account of a boy’s
    reading—Characteristics of chap-book “histories”—Folk-lore
    and legendary settings—_The History of Friar
    Bacon_—_Fortunatus_—Other chap-book survivals—The Georgian
    Autolycus—Travellers’ tales—A great chap-book—Books for men and
    children—Chap-books and ballads—Treatment of romances—The fairy
    world—Legend and history—Border and Robin Hood ballads.

Steele’s account of his two god-children[1] (perhaps the choicest of his
_Tatler_ papers) discovers the weak point of Locke’s philosophy. Nothing
could so shake a blind faith in Æsop as the frank words of Steele’s
little boy who, at eight years old, although he was “a very great
Historian in Æsop’s Fables”, declared “that he did not delight in that
Learning, because he did not believe they were true”.

His sister Betty defied Mr. Locke upon another side, for she dealt
“chiefly in Fairies and Sprights”; and would “terrifie the Maids with her
Accounts” till they were afraid to go up to bed.

Now, neither of these children had the least difficulty about the
supernatural. The boy could have believed in beasts that talked; but he
detected the man inside the lion’s skin: the man that pointed a moral.
These _Fables_, once understood as ridiculing the follies of mankind,
were no longer “true”; but there were other stories of the boy’s own
choosing which, though full of magic, were true to the spirit of their

Steele says he had “very much turned his studies for about a Twelvemonth
past into the Lives and Adventures of _Don Bellianis of Greece_, _Guy of
Warwick_, the _Seven Champions_, and other Historians of that Age”.

Not only does the sympathetic godfather enter into these literary
adventures, as Mr. Locke, with all his wisdom, never could have done, but
he knows the virtue of an unpointed moral: the boy, he says, “had made
Remarks, which might be of Service to him during the Course of his whole
Life. He would tell you the Mismanagements of _John Hickathrift_, find
Fault with the passionate Temper in _Bevis of Southampton_ and loved _St.
George_ for being the Champion of _England_; and by this Means had his
Thoughts insensibly moulded into the Notions of Discretion, Virtue and

In the reign of Anne, these stirring “Histories” were a part of every
pedlar’s stock-in-trade. They were sold at fairs or hawked from door
to door; and a boy that could never stumble through the maze of a
seventeenth century folio might read as many romances as he had
halfpence. Some had been among the earliest printed books. They were
mostly from French originals, though Sir Bevis and Sir Guy had been
“_Chevaliers d’Angleterre_” from the beginning. The chap-book _Seven
Champions_ and _Life and Death of St. George_ were both based on Richard
Johnson’s _History of the Seven Champions_, a medley of other romances
in which Caxton’s “Saynt George of Capadose” had become St. George of
Coventry. But the romance spirit was cosmopolitan, born of the Crusades,
and foreign champions like Don Bellianis of Greece were hardly less

Late writers varied the old adventures; but the chap-book printer, who
did his own editing, cut down the heavy matter of the folios to a bare
chain of incidents. His words were few and ill-chosen, he had neither
style nor grammar; but the core of interest was sound: the stories
touched the imagination of his readers like ballads and fairy tales.

Gallant Knights came straight from the fields of France to the
magnificence of Eastern cities; youths, setting out from the English
towns, adventured among dwarfs and Saracens, giants and dragons, and won
their knighthood by the way.

If the hero never failed to subdue his enemies and win a lady of
surpassing beauty, there was still a doubt (enough to keep the reader
curious) whether a rival would snatch her from him and put him upon a
more dangerous adventure to win her back; or whether, if they fared on
together, they would meet an enchanter or a giant first.

Repetition seldom tires a child. The feats of Acquitaine could be
repeated at Damascus; and the wood-cuts in the chap-books proved that
Montelion and Parismus could fight in the armour of Don Bellianis or
St. George. Nor was it a chance association of the pedlar’s pack which
threw these champions into the company of a village strongman, John
Hickathrift, more commonly called Tom; for although Hickathrift fought
with a cart-wheel and axle-tree for shield and sword, he could beat the
best of them at giant-killing.[3]

The romances, indeed, are full of the common stuff of folk-lore. If the
hero blow a trumpet at a castle-gate, a giant may be expected; if he
blow it at the mouth of an enchanted cave, a prophetic voice replies, or
if he enter the cave by chance, he may find the prophecy inscribed on a
pillar of sapphire—the prelude, in _Don Bellianis_, to the coming of the
Enchantress through a pair of ivory gates.

A hundred folk-tales tell of the Princess rescued from a dragon;
transformation is an affair of every day: Don Bellianis slays a magician
“in the shape of a griffin”; St. Denis, in the _Seven Champions_, is
transformed into a hart, the Princess of Thessaly into a mulberry-tree;
and St. David sleeps seven years in an enchanted garden—the Magic Sleep
of the fairy tales. Nor is the champion of romance without his wonderful
sword or cloak.

The Sword “Morglay” (no more than a stout weapon in the old version of
_Sir Bevis_) is called “wonderful” in the chap-books. Don Bellianis draws
a magic sword from a pillar, as Arthur pulled his out of the stone; St.
George has invincible armour; and the later _History of Fortunatus_ is
the tale of a Wonderful Purse and a Wishing Cap.

But whoever looks upon a child as a pure romantic, has learned but half
his lesson; for in many tales that have stood the test of time, there is
little interest outside sheer matter of fact; and even the romances owed
something to legendary settings which touched a borderland of truth. To
know that Bevis lived in the reign of Edgar, that Guy, returning from
his pilgrimage, found King Athelstane at Winchester, beset by the Danes,
would confirm a child’s belief; but the little reader of chap-books knew
more than this; he could give the exact measurements of Tom Hickathrift’s
grave in Tilney Churchyard, knew where to find Guy’s armour and his
porridge-pot at Warwick, and never doubted that Bevis built Arundel
Castle for love of his horse.

It might be done indeed, for such a horse: no mere product of a wizard’s
cunning, but a steed fit to carry a champion: alive as the persons of the
romances never were. He figures in every adventure, carries the thread
of the story from point to point, and yet stands out, a very symbol of

The chap-book writer makes no picture of the knighting of Bevis, and
never mentions his shield with the three blue eagles on a field of gold;
but he remembers well enough how the Saracen King’s daughter, Josian the
fair, presented Bevis with the sword “Morglay” and the “wonderful steed
called Arundel”.

From that point the story goes to a sound of hoofs; and though the King
betrayed Bevis into the hands of his enemy and gave the horse Arundel to
Bevis’s rival, King Jour, and though Bevis lay in a dungeon for seven
years, Josian herself was not more faithful to him than Arundel; for when
at last he escaped, and came, disguised as a poor pedlar, to the castle
of Jour, Josian knew him not; but Arundel, hearing his master speak,
“neighed and broke seven chains for joy”.

As to the men and women of romance, they borrowed life from their
adventures, but apart from these, were mere types of strength or beauty.
The original portraits, though vague, were not without poetry: the
impression of “The Squyere Guy” has a hint of Chaucer:

    “Feyre he was and bryght of face,
    He schone as bryght as ane glace.”

The chap-book writer contents himself with the remark that King Ermine
was “prepossessed with Guy’s looks”. He bestows more care on the heroine,
Felyce, but covers the faint outline with his trowel. Felyce, once

    “the Erlys Doghtur, a swete thynge”,

becomes “this heavenly Phillis, whose beauty was so excellent that Helen
the pride of all Greece might seem as a Black a Moor to her”.

Many striking situations and dramatic incidents of the older stories
are lost in the chap-books, for want of picture-making phrases and live
speech. A name here and there, such as Brademond, King of Damascus,
would lift a boy like a magic carpet, and set him down among Saracen
pavilions; bare facts might call up pictures; there was the ransom of
King Jour,—“Twenty tun of gold and three hundred white steeds”; but
the unlettered writer shirked most of the details which, in telling
the story aloud, he would express by gestures. The fine fight with the
dragon, in _Guy of Warwick_, makes but a paragraph in the chap-book; the
monster’s head is off before the fight is well begun. Not even a “picture
of the dragon, thirty feet in length, worked in a cloth of arras and hung
up in Warwick Castle for an everlasting monument” could make amends for

Yet a child, making his own pictures out of the poor phrases of these
writers, might have in his mind’s eye something not unlike the images of
the old translator: the boy Bevis on a hillside with his sheep, looking
down at the Castle “that should be his”; the four Knights selling him to
the Saracen merchantmen; or the giant Ascapart wading out to the ship,
with Bevis and Josian and the horse Arundel tucked under his arm.

These stand in clear outline, and, in the roughest shape, have
suggestions of pathos or incongruity; but they pass at once into action,
which is what a child wants: the boy comes down from the hill, forces his
way into the castle and attacks the usurper with his shepherd’s crook;
the Saracens carry him overseas, and set him in the way of adventure;
Ascapart proves himself “a mariner good at need”, hoists sail and brings
his master and mistress safely into harbour.

Laughter is rare in the romances, but this story of Ascapart has a humour
of its own. Bevis, having beaten the giant, spares his life on condition
that he becomes his servant; and in the course of their adventures the
vanquished rescues the victor, the servant picks up his master and
carries him about like a toy. Such a feat measures the great creature
more effectually than the exact method of the chap-book writer: “thirty
Foot high and a Foot between his eyebrows”.

Another “famous History” which came with these into the chap-books, was
that of _Valentine and Orson_, first printed by Wynkyn de Worde, and
reprinted at the close of the nineteenth century as an “old fairy tale”.
It has some novel features besides the usual stage properties of romance.
Of the twin brothers separated in childhood, one is brought up at Court
and trained in knightly exercises; the other carried off by a bear and
nourished with her cubs. This is a foretaste of _The Jungle Book_:

“In a cave, the bear had four young ones, among whom she laid the child
to be devoured, yet all the while the young bears did it no harm; but
with their rough paws stroked it softly. The old bear, perceiving they
did not devour it, showed a bearish kind of favour towards it, inasmuch
that she kept it and gave it suck among her young ones for the space of
one year”.

The second chapter records how the bear’s nursling, Orson, grew up into
a Wild Man, and how the young knight Valentine, his brother, meeting him
in a wood, won a victory of skill against strength; after which, still
unconscious of their relationship, he tamed the Wild Man and taught him
the arts of chivalry.

The more magical elements of the story have a flavour of the East, and
doubtless belong to the older strata of Eastern romance. The adventure of
the Dwarf Pacolet suggests the tale of the “Magic Horse” in the _Thousand
and One Nights_; for by his art this dwarf, who was an Enchanter, “had
contrived a horse of wood, and in the forehead a fixed pin, by turning of
which he could convey himself to the farthest part of the world”.

Many such marvels, related during the Middle Ages by merchants or
Crusaders returning from the East, had been caught up in the weavings
of romance; but it is a sort of magic that has little to do with the
myth-making power of childhood. Pacolet’s flying horse is made of wood;
the touch of its hoof never brought water from a mountain-side. It
represents the magic of ingenuity which comes half-way between pure
romance and the practical marvels of a scientific age.

Indeed, it is but a step from the flying horse of Eastern tales to Roger
Bacon’s horseless chariots and flying “instruments”. The “Learned Friar”,
a clerk of Oxford in the thirteenth century, foretold many things to be
performed by “Art and Nature”, wherein should be “nothing magical”. Yet
he studied such strange matters that he was persecuted for practising
magic, and the chap-books set him down a conjurer. The Enchanted Head
of Brass which in _Valentine and Orson_ reveals the parentage of the
brothers, reappears in the _Famous History of Friar Bacon_, as the
Brazen Head, wrought in so many sleepless nights by the Friar and his
brother-in-magic, Friar Bungay.

Greene, in his play of _Fryer Bacon and Fryer Boungay_ (1591), follows
this well known tract,[4] which came down with few changes to the
eighteenth century. Here the old magic machinery goes with the light
movement of a popular tale. The Brazen Head should have disclosed a
secret whereby Friar Bacon “would have walled England about with brass”;
but the stupidity of his servant Miles prevented it. For when the two
magicians, worn out with toil, lay down to sleep, they set him to watch
the Head, commanding him to call them the moment it should speak; and he,
the while, kept up his spirits “with tabor and pipe and song”.

When at last the Head spake these words: “Time Is,” and no more, Miles,
understanding nothing by that, fell to mockery: “If thou canst speak no
wiser, they shall sleep till doomsday for me. Time is! I know Time is,
that you shall hear, Goodman Brazen Face!”

So saying, he fitted the words to the tune of “Dainty, come thou to me”,
and sang for half-an-hour. Thereupon the Head spake again, saying two
words and no more: “Time Was”; whereat the Simpleton railed afresh, and
another half-hour went by.

Then the Brazen Head spake again, these words: “Time is Past”, and then
fell down; and presently followed a terrible noise, with strange flashes
of fire, so that Miles was half-dead with fear.

“Out on thee, villain,” cried Friar Bacon, “thou hast undone us both;
hadst thou but called us when it did speak, all England had been walled
about with brass, to its glory and our eternal fame.”

Locke’s followers were never tired of setting the “plain Magique of
tru Reason’s Light” against Friar Bacon’s conjurings. There were later
moralists who recognized the Wizard as a pioneer of science; but these
would have none of his magic, and rejected all tales of undeserved good

Wordsworth alone had the courage to tum a child loose in the enchanted
woods. He praised _The History of Fortunatus_, which is more like
“Aladdin” than any tale of chivalry. By sheer luck the Spendthrift
finds a Galley of Venice lying at anchor and gets his choice of gifts.
These vanished like fairy gold in the hands of his sons, and children
remembered little else but his Wishing Cap and his Purse that never was
empty. Yet Fortunatus was a name to conjure by, and the pure spirit of
adventure was in his first setting out, as the woodcut shows, “with a
Hawk in his Hand”.

It seems odd that the eighteenth century child should have ballads
about King Arthur and his Knights, but no account of them in prose.
Malory’s “Noble Histories”, like the once famous cycles of Amadis and the
Palmerins, escaped the chap-book writers; but they had one or two relics
of the old _Historyes of Troye_, in which Priam’s palace had become an
enchanted castle, and Hector a knight errant.

The pedlar had no chronology. Patient Grissel, fresh from a new
translation of Boccaccio, was a lady of the eighteenth century, and what
pleased the country fireside of 1700 still pleased it in 1760. The tales
that Mr. Burchell gave the children in _The Vicar of Wakefield_ might
have come out of a chapman’s bundle in almost any part of the century:
“the story of the Buck of Beverland, with the History of Patient Grissel,
the Adventures of Catskin and then Fair Rosamond’s Bower.”

Among other “useless Trumpery” were riddles, nonsense-books and farcical
tales of rogues or simpletons.[5] These are full of the topsy-turvy
nonsense that children love, and the coarse jests from which they were
seldom guarded. The older stories, even when they deal with everyday
life, give it a romantic flavour. The Cobbler feasts with the King; the
Valiant London Prentice leaves his shop on London Bridge, and sets out to
joust with eastern princes. A Tudor pedlar, Tom Long, in the course of
his absurd adventures, visits the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, whose story
makes a welcome interlude:

“Coming to the town, they found everything altered, the inhabitants being
other sort of people than they were the night before. So, going to buy
food, the people refused to take their money, saying they knew not the
coin; but enquiring further, found that since their being there, three
generations had been dead and the fourth was in being”.

Tom Long was the puppet of a nonsense-book; but other chap-books,
following Deloney, told the “true histories” of industrious
fortune-makers who were not out of place in a commercial age; and the
life of an eighteenth century pedlar was plain enough to pass for truth.
An account (in a late Stirling tract)[6] of the “Flying Stationer”,
Peter Duthie, shows that he took up his trade in 1729, when he was eight
years old, and was upon the road for eighty years—a Georgian Autolycus,
known for his quaint wit “in every city, town, village and hamlet in
great Britain”. At some time, perhaps, he sold “lives” of his brethren
Dougal Graham and John Cheap the Chapman, whose story was “moralised” by
Hannah More.

The traveller is always a romantic figure. No amount of fact can take the
pleasure of expectation and surprise out of a journey, and the setting
of most chap-books was a journey by land or sea. The “Flying Stationer”
asked no more for the Wonderful Voyages of Sir John Mandeville than for
the rough yarn of a ship-wrecked sailor.

This last, if it pointed a moral, might serve a double purpose, for the
old allegories were dying out, except in burlesques. Abstractions always
had a way of coming alive when they set foot on English ground, and _The
History of Laurence Lazy_, of “Lubberland Castle in the County of Sloth”
was no mere allegory of Idleness, but the tale of a scapegrace who, to
the joy of all children, got the better of the Schoolmaster, the Squire’s
Cook and the Farmer. His “Arraignment and Trial” in the Town Hall of
“Never Work” was a triumphant apology for idlers; yet a scene like this
may have suggested the symbolic trial of Christian and Faithful in the
Town of Vanity.

That splendid chap-book, _The Pilgrim’s Progress_,[7] is built up of
such things. Bunyan’s reading, outside the Bible (although he counted
it among his sins) had acquainted him with romances, tales of magic and
enchantment, “histories” of live persons; and all these, or nearly all,
were concerned with adventures upon the road.[8]

Bible stories and Christian legends were common in Bunyan’s youth. There
was a versified “history” of Joseph and his Brethren, and the beautiful
legend of the Glastonbury Thorn was as well known as that of _The Seven
Sleepers_ or _The Wandering Jew_.

But _The Pilgrim’s Progress_ dealt in terms of unmistakable experience
with the journey that every man must go; the figures of its allegory were
live persons, such as a man might meet upon any road, and its setting
changed as the way ran through towns and villages, past fields and
sloughs and thickets, over hills where the surest-footed might fall “from
running to going and from going to clambering upon his hands and knees,
because of the steepness of the place”, or beside rivers that ran through
meadows and orchards, with lilies underfoot, and above, “green trees with
all manner of fruit”.

These things give place at certain points, as they do in life, to the
scorched plains of torment, the overwhelming Shadow of Death, or, where
the river and the way for a time part, to the Dungeon of Despair. There
are glimpses by the way of strange and beautiful lands, of vineyards and
mountains upon which “the sun shineth night and day”; but here also is
the road running through the midst of the country to a city more splendid
than the cities of romance, for “it was builded of pearls and precious
stones, also the streets thereof were paved with gold”.

The child would start on this journey with some knowledge of his
bearings, for, like Bunyan, he had set out on an earlier pilgrimage
with Guy of Warwick.[9] At the Palace Beautiful, he would remember how
Montelion had been armed by nymphs, and at Doubting Castle, how Bevis had
escaped from his prison in Damascus.

No knight ever strove with giant or dragon as Christian struggled with
Apollyon; none of the Seven Champions had encountered the dangers of this
road. Yet these were adventures that might happen to a man in the midst
of his ordinary business; that much a child might understand beneath the
surface of romance which for him is the chief matter of the book.

This was the first of three great books which pleased both men and
children in the eighteenth century. The others are _Robinson Crusoe_[10]
and _The Travels and Adventures of Captain Lemuel Gulliver_.[11] Each, in
its own kind, is a _Voyage Imaginaire_ and the unwrought matter of all
three was to be found in chap-books. The tale of the shipwrecked man had
never been told with such apparent truth as in _Robinson Crusoe_. Readers
of the chap-book history of Drake, who were familiar with accounts
of “Monsters and Monstrous People”, would read this sober journal as
the purest matter of fact; nor was there anything beyond belief in
Gulliver’s adventures, to anyone who knew the pedlar’s book of _Sir John
Mandeville_. For here, among greater marvels, was a notable account of
giants and pigmies.

The island setting of _Robinson Crusoe_, the figure of Friday, the
footprint in the sand, belong to the world of romance; so do the giants
and dwarfs of _Gulliver_. Yet in both books, the things that happen are
human and practical; the setting gives scope for the chief interests
of the century: men and morals and matters of fact. Defoe pointed his
moral, and as an afterthought explained the Voyage of Robinson Crusoe as
an allegory of his life; Swift used the contrary device of satire. But
no child was ever concerned with an under-sense, where he could follow
every turn of the adventure. A philosopher would not have discovered
Crusoe’s allegory, and a child is more likely to suspect satire in
_Reynard the Fox_ than in _Gulliver_.

The adventures of Lilliput and Brobdignag are the convincing “history”
of a nation of Tom Thumbs and a nation of Blunderbores; only a little
Gradgrind would question their truth. A child reading _The Pilgrim’s
Progress_ is himself the Pilgrim; in the adventure of the island he is
the shipwrecked man; and in the Travels, first the big man upon whose
body the little men climb with ladders, then the little man, paddling his
toy boat to amuse the giants.

These books, like the romances, were for little men as well as big ones;
but their authors renewed the old devices by a masterly simple style.
They made pictures such as were never found in chap-book prose, and
rarely in tales that had passed into ballad form.

       *       *       *       *       *

The eighteenth century pedlar had fewer ballads than his predecessors;
yet those he had, like the songs of Autolycus, were “for man or woman, of
all sizes”.

Ballad tunes, from Shakespeare to Wordsworth, were “Food for the hungry
ears of little ones,” and there is something in the simple conventions
of ballads that suggests the story-telling of a child. Those printed
ballads, “darling songs of the common People”, which Addison found upon
the walls of eighteenth-century houses, attracted him by their classic
simplicity, but the two he liked the best: “Chevy Chase” and “The Two
Children in the Wood”, had been the joy of Elizabethan nurseries.[12]

Most of the chap-book stories were sung as ballads. “The Seven
Champions”, “St. George”, “Patient Grissel” and “The London Prentice”
were all in the _Collection of Old Ballads_ printed in 1723, with “The
Noble Acts of King Arthur” from Malory;[13] and others were reprinted
in Percy’s _Reliques_ (1765) from a folio manuscript of the seventeenth

The ballad maker, dealing with romances, preferred short episodes. A
tedious story would never go to his quick measures; but by laying his
chief stress on speech and movement, or adding a refrain, he made a thing
quite unlike the short versions of the chap-books, and gave a certain
dramatic unity to the separate parts.

Thus the incident of “Guy and Colebrande”, in Percy’s folio, had been
chosen from _Guy of Warwick_, and the ballad of St. George, in the
Collection of 1723, deals only with the dragon story. Some ballads, it is
true, cover a sequence of adventures. “The Lord of Lorn,”, like _Bevis of
Southampton_, gives the whole story of a child robbed of his inheritance:
a shepherd boy that should have been a lord; and the scene changes from
Britain to France and back again; but so much is told in dialogue that
the story dances to its end:

    “Do thou me off thy sattin doublett
      Thy shirtband wrought with glistering gold,
    And doe mee off thy golden chaine
      About thy necke so many a fold.

    “Do thou me off thy velvett hat.
      With fether in that is so ffine;
    All unto thy silken shirt
      That’s wrought with many a golden seam.


    “‘What must be my name, worthy Steward?
      I pray thee now, tell it me:’
    ‘Thy name shalbe Pore Disaware,
      To tend sheepe on a lonelye lee.’”

Of the fairy world revealed in “Thomas Rymer”, the ghostly suggestion
of “The Wife of Usher’s Well,” there is no trace till the close of the
century. The true ballads of Elfland are more song than story, and rise
by suggestion above the simplicity of fairy tales:

    “O they rade on and farther on,
      And they waded rivers abune the knee
    And they saw neither sun nor moon,
      But they heard the roaring of the sea.”

The breath of enchantment is rare in English ballads. There is nothing
in print before Scott’s _Minstrelsy_ like the magic of these lines; but
Percy reprinted a sixteenth century ballad, “The Mad-Merry Prankes of
Robbin Goodfellow” which Puck himself might have sung:

    “From Oberon in Fairyland
      The King of ghosts and shadows there,
    Mad Robbin I at his command
      Am sent to view the night-sports here.
          What revell rout
          Is kept about
      In every corner where I goe
          I will oresee
          And merry be
      And make good sport with ho, ho, ho.”

This is the triumphant laughter of a child. The “shrewd and knavish
sprite” has neither the delicacy of smaller fairies nor the courtly
dignity of his master. He is the spirit of childish mischief: greeting
night-wanderers “with counterfeiting voice”, shape-changing, “whirrying”
over hedges and pools, or playing tricks on lads and lasses at village
feasts. “Hobgoblin” or “sweet Puck”, half-child, half-fairy, he roams the
English country,

      “Through woods, through lakes,
      Through bogs, through brakes,
    Ore bush and brier”,

and boasts of greater powers.

There is no doubting either voice or words:

    “More swift than lightning can I flye
      And round about this ayrie welkin soone.
    And in a minutes space descry
      Each thing that’s done belowe the moone”.

There are two more fairy songs in the _Reliques_: one given “with some
corrections” from a seventeenth century garland, the other, Bishop
Corbet’s “Farewell” to the fairies. The first contradicts the second, for
obeying the invocation

    “Come, follow, follow me
    You fairy elves that be”,

a team of little atomies appear, proving that they were never out of
England since Shakespeare wrote, but “unheard and unespy’d”, were gliding
through Puritan key-holes and spreading their feasts while the Bishop was
composing his lament,

    “Farewell, rewards and fairies!”

Yet these, like Robin Goodfellow, are spirits of Earth; they eat more
than fairy bread. A mortal surely suggested the details of their feast,
but they dance a fairy measure:

      “The grasshopper, gnat and fly,
      Serve for our minstrelsy;
      Grace said, we dance awhile,
      And so the time beguile;
    And if the moon doth hide her head,
    The gloe-worm lights us home to bed.

      “On tops of dewie grasse
      So nimbly do we passe;
      The young and tender stalk
      Ne’er bends when we do walk:
    Yet in the morning may be seen
    Where we the night before have been.”

Rhymed nursery tales seldom show the true ballad quality. The only
children’s stories in the Collection of 1723 are “The Children in the
Wood”, and “Sir Richard Whittington”: the one a true ballad, newly
licensed and approved by Addison; the other (also mentioned in the
_Spectator_) taking precedence of such rhymes as “Catskin” and “Tom
Thumb” for a popular grafting of the romance of Fortune upon a stock of
historical fact.

Southern ballad-printers favoured the merry or tragic themes of legend
and history,[14] and if few of their songs had the trumpet-note of “Chevy
Chase”, they lacked neither freshness nor vigour. Some, like “the Blind
Beggar’s Daughter of Bednall-Green”, gave a fresh turn to Elizabethan
traditions, and made up for indifferent workmanship by a plentiful
force of rhythm. Late nursery poets could not better this trick of the

    “It was a blind beggar that long lost his sight,
    He had a fair daughter of beauty most bright;
    And many a gallant brave suitor had she,
    For none was so comely as pretty Bessee.”

Another of these old broadsides, “Johnny Armstrong’s Last Good Night”
appeared among Dryden’s Miscellanies in 1702, in the Collections of 1723
and 1724, and again in Evans’s _Old Ballads_ (1777).

“The music of the finest singer is dissonance,” wrote Goldsmith, “to what
I felt when our old dairymaid sung me into tears with Johnny Armstrong’s
last Good Night or the Cruelty of Barbara Allen.”

These are the true stuff of ballads; but a child cares most about action,
and, asked to choose between them, would be pretty sure to call for the
Border Song.

The story of John Armstrong, which came down to prose in the chap-books,
has points in common with “Robin Hood”, but John and his “Merry Men” have
no touch of Robin’s careless humour. They fight like the heroes of Chevy
Chase, and ask no quarter:

    “Said John, Fight on, my merry men all,
      I am a little hurt, but I am not slain.
    I will lay me down for to bleed a while
      Then I’le rise and fight with you again.”

The pirate song of “Sir Andrew Barton”[15] is a sailor’s variant of this.
Lord Howard defies Sir Andrew upon the high seas much as Erle Percy, in
despite of the Douglas, takes his pleasure in the Scottish woods. There
was never a better fight on shore, and when at last the pirate falls to
an English bowman, he repeats the border cry:

    “‘Fight on, my men!’ says Sir Andrew Barton,
      ‘I am hurt, but I am not slain;
    I’le lay mee downe and bleed awhile,
      And then I’le rise and fight again’.”

Sir Andrew stands out from his fellows, though the portrait is not to be
compared with Robin Hood’s; and the king himself speaks his epitaph:

    “‘I wo’ld give a hundred pound,’ says King Henrye
    ‘The man were alive as he is dead!’”

Another of these narrative ballads, “Adam Bell”,[16] has a forest
background that suggests Robin Hood:

    “Merry it was in grene forest
      Among the leves grene
    Where that men walke both East and West
      Wyth bowes and arrowes kene.”

The full title, “Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough and William of
Cloudesley”, has a sufficing rhythm, and the story is good; not unlike a
Norse Saga, where they set fire to the outlaw’s house, and like _William
Tell_, where Cloudesley splits an apple on his son’s head at six score

But the true Robin Hood ballads take a child into his own country, and
he finds it peopled with his friends. From the first stanzas of “The
Curtall Friar”, he is Robin’s man:

    “In summer time, when leaves grow green
      And flowers are fresh and gay
    Robin Hood and his merry men
      _Were disposed to play_.”

In this play-humour, the outlaws themselves are children, as every child
is by nature an outlaw. They know better than to take life for a serious
business. To them, as to a child, it is one long and absorbing game of

Robin, like Fulk Fitz-Warine or Hereward, could play at any trade—a
potter, a beggar, a shepherd, a fisherman. His band were mostly men who
had forsaken some dull craft for this great game of hiding and hunting
and robbery. In the midst of active enjoyment, they set themselves to
redress the unequal balance of fortune; but they never doubted their own
solid advantages over sheriffs and abbots,—the people who dwelt in towns
and cloisters, and had forgotten how to play.

Early collectors of the eighteenth century found no ballads that echoed
the sound of the greenwood:

                        “notes small
    Of Byrdis mery syngynge”,

or that made pictures of the deer shadowed in green leaves; but there
were imitations of the older songs, and the setting was always implied.

After 1765, there must have been children who knew the prelude to “Guy of
Gisborne”, from Percy’s _Reliques_:

    “When shaws been sheene and shradds full fayre,
      And leaves both large and longe,
    It is merrye walking in the fayre forrest,
      To heare the small birdes songe.

    “The woodweele sang and wold not cease,
      Sitting upon the spraye
    So lowde, he wakened Robin Hood
      In the greenwood where he lay.”

A child cares little about landscape for its own sake, but much for the
things which it suggests. Here, the setting is essential to the game
these outlaws are playing; they are as much a part of it as the deer they
chase. The beauty of the forest and the song of birds lead on to the
adventure; but they are as nothing compared to the romantic fact that
this is a place where any man may meet with Robin Hood.

In the same way, a child appreciates character as it affects the course
of events. Robin Hood’s men are neither an army nor a clan; they join
his company of their own free choice, after proof of sportsmanship; and
the chief of them—Little John, Scarlett and Much the miller’s son, are
distinct personalities. The result is a spirit of individual adventure
which gives the stories unusual interest and variety.

The earliest songs of Robin Hood had grown into a ballad-epic, “A Lytell
Geste of Robyn Hood”,[17] in which Robin’s character was proved in talk
and incidents, and further shown by the story-teller’s comments on his
courage and gentleness, his respect for women, his love of the forest;
but gentle attributes failed to impress the writers of eighteenth century
broadsheets. They recall the more obvious traits by a few epithets:

    “I will you tell of a bold outlaw,”


    “A story of gallant brave Robin Hood
      Unto you I will declare.”

Taking the rest for granted, they deal directly with Robin’s combats and
escapes, his farcical adventures with bishops and beggars, his daring
rescues; and in these, the quality that comes uppermost is the roguish
humour which above all distinguishes him from the conventional knight of

A single attempt to connect him with the romances—the late ballad of
“Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon”—marks the difference of kind; for
though Robin kills the prince, and John and Scadlock bag a giant apiece,
they move like live men among shadows.

The children of the eighteenth century did not meet the outlaws of the
“golden world”. They knew the Curtal Friar and Alan a Dale, and what
happened when Robin Hood

                “Weary of the Wood-side
    And chasing of the fallow deer,”

tried his fortunes at sea. They had two ballads at least that varied
old themes of the _Geste_, “Robin Hood and the Bishop” and “The King’s
Disguise”. And Little John was their friend,—not of course, the old
Little John who praised the season in the words of a poet; but “A jolly
brisk blade right fit for the trade”, more like the scapegrace in a
popular “History”.

_Robin Hood’s Garland_, printed in 1749, gave a mere collection of
stories for the sequence of the _Geste_, and many chap-books copied it in
prose; but a rough cadence is better than none, and Robin Hood was first
praised in a ballad.

The chap-books, indeed, were no more than the dead leaves of romance;
it took the vivid play of a child’s fancy to revive them; but whatever
the ballad-maker touched,—fairy tale or legend or history,—he made a new
thing of it: a story to sing or tell, but short enough to be sung or told
many times over.



    Unwritten fairy tales—“Child Rowland”—Traditional matter and
    printed books—_The History of Thomas Hickathrift_—Giants
    and Dwarfs—Logic and Realism in _Tom Thumb_—Lack of Magic
    in English Folk-tales—Whittington and his Cat—Perrault’s
    _Contes_—The partnership between Youth and Age—English
    versions—“Court” adaptations and “moral” fairy
    tales—Eastern stories—The “little yellow canvas-covered
    book”—Nursery criticism—Aladdin and Sinbad—The “Oriental
    Moralist”—Traditional tales moralised: _Tom Thumb_ and _Robin
    Goodfellow_—_The Two Children in the Wood_—_The Enchanted

Fairies were not altogether unknown in the Age of Reason, though the
Royal Society kept no record of their delicate transactions. The little
Betty of Steele’s paper, who terrified the maids with her accounts of
“Fairies and Sprights”, must have learned them, as children do, from the
“Grasshoppers’ Library”; for the pedlar had no such tales in print.

They were sometimes told as a mixture of ballad and fairy tale—a story
with snatches of ballad rhyme. Children guarded them jealously, passing
them on word for word, with none of the slips that a printer would have

Such a tale was “Child Rowland”, first set down by Jamieson in 1814,[18]
as an old country tailor told it to him when he was seven or eight years
old. But that old tailor had heard it in his own childhood, and so,
doubtless had his great-grandfathers in theirs; for this tale of the
three brothers seeking their lost sister, of her being stolen by the
King of Elfland and kept under a spell, is the same that Shakespeare
quoted in _King Lear_:

    “Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
    His word was still ‘Fie, foh and fum,
    I smell the blood of a British man’.”

A child would remember the giant-formula, though he forgot every word
of that “easy pleasant Book, suited to his Capacity” which Mr. Locke
prescribed for him; he would remember the whole exquisite story: how the
youngest brother found his sister, and what passed between them (most of
it in rhyme) and how he fought with the Elf-King and broke the spell.

If Child Rowland had been the only story of its kind, Mr. Locke had yet
to reckon with the fancies that a child might weave for himself out of
common experience: the moving tree that casts the shadow of a pursuing
giant, the wind that wears an invisible cloak, the enchanter sun who can
pave any road with gold. These baffled all his efforts to drive fairies
out of the nursery.

But printed tales, before Perrault, were few enough: in prose, the
giant killers, “Hickathrift” and “Jack”; in rhyme, “Catskin” and “Tom
Thumb” and “Whittington”. Like printed ballads, they favoured themes of
action and reality. Catskin, the English Cinderella, did without a fairy
godmother; Tom Thumb, although he tilted with the knights of the Round
Table, never saw Fairyland till he died, and Whittington’s cat was a mere
mouser, a poor relation of Puss in Boots.

The truth is that a child never asks himself whether a tale belongs to
the dream world or to the world of reality, because either will serve his
turn, and either may be true. Any setting convinces him if the adventure
hold; and a tale that lost its imaginative colouring in the chap-books
might regain it in a winter night.

Between 1690 and 1790, there is little change in “The Pleasant History
of Thomas Hickathrift”,[19] and not a trace in print of the “astonishing
image” that Coleridge remembered: the “whole rookery that flew out
of the giant’s beard, scared by the tremendous voice with which this
monster answered the challenge of the heroic Tom Hickathrift”.[20] The
nearest thing to it (in a chap-book of 1780) is the likening of the
giant’s head, when it was off, to “the root of a mighty Oak.” But this
image of the monstrous beard, a piece of pure myth, if it were not
the addition of some imaginative teller, came down from a time when
childlike men invented it to explain the giant shapes of trees. A child,
recognizing the analogy, feels the same shock of surprise and pleasure
as his forest-dwelling ancestors, and finds in this play of likeness and
contrast, the source and sustaining interest of all giant tales. For
there never was a giant without dwarfs to measure him, nor a dwarf that
had not his giant; nor indeed is Jack’s fight with Blunderbore a more
engrossing spectacle than Tom Thumb dancing a Galliard on the Queen’s
left hand.[21]

Yet there is little of the fairy about Tom Thumb. He is a real child,
mischievous, even thievish,—taking advantage of his size to creep into
other boys’ cherry-bags and steal. His one poor trick of magic is to
hang pots upon a sunbeam, his one adventure into romance, a mock-heroic
episode at King Arthur’s court.

When Dr. Johnson “withdrew his attention” from the great man who bored
him and “thought about Tom Thumb”, the escape was not from dull facts
into a world of dreams, but from the pedantry of words into a simple

Given a little creature in a land of giants, Tom’s experiences are
strictly logical. He stands on the edge of a bowl in which his mother
is mixing batter, and falls in. When his mother goes milking, she ties
him to a thistle, and he is swallowed by a cow. A raven that spies him
walking in a furrow carries him off “even like a grain of corn”.

As for his life at Court, there is example for it, “Tom being a dwarf”;
nor was he the first mischief-maker to find his way there, nor the first
poor man’s son that overcame his betters. But his method of attack was
new; no champion in the annals of romance had beaten Sir Launcelot, Sir
Tristram and Sir Guy with no other weapon than a laugh.

At Court, Tom bears himself as to the manner born; wears the King’s
signet for a girdle, creeps nimbly into the royal button-hole, and finds
a place, sooner than most courtiers, “near his Highness heart”. At home,
he is still the gentle scapegrace beloved of village folk. If he craves a
boon of the King, it is to relieve the wants of his parents: and the boon,

                “as much of silver coin
    As well his arms could hold”,

amounts to the great sum of _threepence_,

    “A heavy burden which did make
      His weary limbs to crack.”

There is a kind of natural magic in all this that a child can grasp
without the help of a magician. Tom Thumb although he is wingless, can
wear a fairy dress: an oak-leaf hat, a spider-woven shirt, hose and
doublet of thistle-down and

          “shoes made of a mouse’s skin
    And tann’d most curiously”.

Small creatures that creep among grass-blades seem to have furnished the
rhymer with analogies. Tom’s house is but half a mile from the court,
yet he takes two days and nights to make the journey; he sleeps in a
walnut-shell, and his parents feast him three days upon a hazel-nut,

    “that was sufficient for a month
      For this great man to eat”.

“A few moist April drops” are enough to delay his return, till his
“careful father” takes a “birding trunk” and with a single blast, blows
him back to court.

Last comes the notable account of his death, which tells how the doctors
examined him through “a fine perspective glass” and found—

    “His face no bigger than _an ant’s_,
      Which hardly could be seen”.

The rhyme is a dwarf epic, perhaps begun by some child that had found an
ant-hill, or a thistle taller than himself; carried on, with a phrase
here and a picture there from older tales, by the “careful father”, who
set it to the unequal beat of little feet at his side.

But no child could endure the unhappy end. A second part and a third
(both sorry imitations of the first) brought the “little knight” back to
fresh adventures; and even the printers of instructive books understood
the value of his name on a title-page.

Catskin,[22] long forgotten through the more glorious transformations of
her French sister, could hold Dr. Primrose’s children with the old theme
of disguise and changing fortune. Five parts in verse gave her whole
history: how she was banished, like Cordelia, by an angry father; how
she disguised herself in a hood of Catskin, and took service in a great
house; how (following here the very print of the Glass Slipper) she went
to the ball and danced with a Knight; and how, one day when she forgot
her Catskin hood, the Knight, discovering her “in rich attire”, fell in
love with her and married her.

English folk-tales, compared with others more magical, are like the
toys that a child will make for himself out of a stick, beside the fine
inventions of a conjurer; they appeal chiefly to practical interests,
and leave much to the imagination. Jack killed Cormoran and Blunderbore
and the giant with two heads before anybody thought of giving him a cap
of knowledge, or shoes of swiftness, or even a magic sword. These things
were the addition of a Second Part.

Indeed, a tale never was so plain that it gathered no colour in the
telling. There was an old story of Whittington without a Cat,[23] and how
the cat got into the story was more than the whole Society of Antiquaries
could tell, though it met together in 1771 expressly to discuss the
problem. In our own time, most antiquaries are agreed that the Cat found
its way from Genoa or Persia or Portugal,—no matter whence,—and that it
is a piece of folk-lore grafted upon authentic biography. Try as they
will, they can get little nearer to the heart of the matter than Mr.
Pepys, when he watched the puppet-show of Whittington at Southwark Fair,
“which was pretty to see”, and remarked “how that idle thing do work upon
people that see it, and even myself too”.

The very truth underlying the modest fable of the Cat and the song of Bow
Bells, had more power than the Wishing Hat of Fortunatus, and would have
carried more fanciful embellishments; but it is never safe to lose sight
of the double paradox of childish imagination—that reality is romance,
romance, reality. If “_Cendrillon_” had never been done into English,
Catskin or Cap o’ Rushes might have worn the Glass Slipper and ridden in
a Pumpkin Coach. As it fell out, the little kitchen-maid surpassed them
both,—the girl whose ragged dress was transformed at a touch into “_drap
d’or et d’argent, tout charmarez de pierreries_.”

Cinderella’s biographer was no less a person than Charles Perrault, a
member of the French Academy, and a friend of La Fontaine. He also wrote
the famous “histories” of little Red Riding Hood and the Sleeping Beauty,
of Hop o’ my Thumb (a distant kinsman of Tom Thumb), Puss in Boots, and
others who have lived so long in English nurseries that their French
names are forgotten.

In his youth, Perrault had rebelled against the formal education of his
day, and when he was little short of seventy, he turned from his serious
works and produced a children’s book by which he is still remembered.

Fairy tales, indeed, were already popular in France, but they had become
a part of that fantastic world into which the Court of Louis XIV had been
transformed: a world of courtly shepherds and shepherdesses, who told
“_Contes des fées_” (“_mitonner_”, Madame de Sévigné says they called it)
to prove that they had gone back to the Golden Age.

Perrault knew better than to copy them. He wrote for a public at once
more appreciative and more critical: the nursery society of which, in the
introduction to his rhymed tales (1695) he wrote: “_On les voit dans la
tristesse et dans l’abbattement tant que le héros ou l’héroine du conte
sont dans le malheur, et s’écrie de joie quand le temps de leur bonheur

His knowledge of children alone might have carried him through, but
his choice of a collaborator was an act of genius. When in 1697, the
_Contes_ were collected and published,[24] it was not to M. Perrault
of the Academy that the “_privelège du roy_” was granted, but to his
ten-years-old son, Perrault Darmancour. The device of anonymity was
common among the early writers of children’s books, and some critics
have suggested that it was beneath the dignity of an Academician to
acknowledge the authorship of fairy-tales; but Mlle. L’Héritier,
Perrault’s niece, who contributed one tale to the book, declared, before
it was published, that little Darmancour could write fairy-tales “with
much charm”; and Mr. Andrew Lang, following M. Lacroix, believed that
the boy had a real share in the book. He detected the actual note of a
child’s voice in the dialogue:

“_Toc, toc, qui est là? C’est voire fille, le petit chaperon rouge—qui
vous apporte une galette et un petit pot de beurre que ma mère vous
envoye ... tira la chevillette, la bobinette chera_”. But this, after
all, is the language of fairy-tales. Here it is again, when the little
princess finds the old woman spinning: “_Que faites-vous là, ma bonne
femme—je file, ma belle enfant.... Ha! que cela est joli ... comment
faites-vous? Donnez-moy que je voye si j’en ferois bien autant_”.

It is the language of fairy-tales; and that, of course, is child’s talk.
But the father’s part is clear in the artistic handling of the tales, in
the addition of “_Moralités_” after the manner of Æsop, and in asides of
laughter or comment intended for grown-up ears,—a sly dig at the lawyers
in “_Le Maître Chat_”, or at women, through the Ogre’s wife in “_Le Petit

Some such partnership between youth and age there must be in all real
children’s books; whether it be arranged between them is another matter.
The wise writer will always take hints from the child, will remember
the way he turns his phrases, the tones of his voice, the things that
interest him; but if he remember his own childhood, it may serve as well.

These stories are all memories of childhood. As their more intimate
title, “_Contes de ma Mère Loye_”, suggests, they were handed down for
centuries, gathering new features by the way, till this boy of Perrault’s
had them from his nurse. But no child could have written them as Perrault
wrote. “Cinderella”—the “story of stories”: the boy could repeat it word
for word; but if he had tried to set it down, he would have lost the
thread at the point of transformation. Those dramatic strokes of the
clock would have been forgotten in the music of the ball. This balance,
this art of simplicity is the work of a man,—an academician, the writer
who, in a French “Battle of the Books”, took up the cause of the Moderns
against the Classics, and yet lived in the kindly reasonable humour that
belongs to the Augustan Age.

Perrault’s _Contes_ are essentially romantic; the Sleeping Beauty gives
place only to Persephone,—she and her sleeping household, shut in by the
great hedge of thorns; but every tale has quaint human touches which puts
it precisely at the right angle to life: the little girl, her basket of
goodies, and the sick grandmother, all things of experience; and then,
with a quick turn of the “World Upside Down”—_the Grandmother that was
really a Wolf_ in bed. A nurse might have told it well enough; but the
artist knew the true colours, the just economy of lines, and the point
where one could turn from the pictures and listen for talk.

Perrault must have followed every footstep in the tales with the eager
sympathy of the boy at his side. Together they hid with Little Thumb
under his father’s stool, and heard the poor parents’ desperate shift to
be rid of their children. They were with the tiny hero when he filled his
pockets full of small white pebbles, and made the trail by which he and
his six brothers found their way home; and they joined in the hopeless
search of the second adventure, when Little Thumb dropped crumbs instead
of pebbles, and the birds ate them. That brings the story to the very
heart of interest: when the hungry boys, lost in the forest at nightfall,
fancied they heard on every side of them the howling of wolves coming
to eat them up. For then Little Thumb, the youngest and smallest and
cleverest of them all “climbed up to the top of a tree, to see if he
could discover anything; and having turned his head about on every side,
he saw at last a glimmering light, like that of a candle, but a long way
from the forest.” This is matter of romance, though there is nothing in
it beyond Nature. But—that “glimmering light” threw its beams from _an
Ogre’s window_, and there was yet to come the Adventure of the Seven
League Boots: those boots that would fit a foot of any size, from the
Ogre’s to Little Thumb’s; in which either Perrault _père_ or Perrault
_fils_ could go seven leagues at a step.

No copy remains of the first translation of Perrault’s tales by Samber
(1729),[25] nor of John Newbery’s edition; but a seventh edition appeared
in 1777, under the title of “Mother Goose’s Tales”, and an eighth in
1780. At the close of the century, Harris printed another, “Englished by
G. M. Gent”, of which copies are still found. The book fits a very small
hand, and though every trace of gold be rubbed off the covers, the Dutch
paper pattern can still be seen through diamond patches of colour. The
frontispiece shows an old woman with her distaff, seated by the fire,
telling stories to a group of children; and there are quaint woodcuts in
the text.

The welcome given in court circles to fairy-tales marked the beginning,
or rather, a special phase of romantic interest; but this had little
to do with children. Such tales, originally simple, caught the
elaborate grace of their new setting, and borrowing variations from the
newly-translated eastern stories, ran into an endless series in the
_Cabinet des Fées_. In English they were represented chiefly by the
_Contes_ of Madame la Comtesse D’Aulnoy, which were translated before
Perrault’s.[26] These were common as nursery chap-books in the second
half of the century.

Nothing could be more unlike the simplicity of Perrault. Madame
D’Aulnoy’s stories are rich in embroideries of the folk-tale themes.
She makes something very like a novel of her “_L’Oiseau Bleu_”; but the
adventures of the bird-lover are well known in such ballads as “the
Earl of Mar’s Daughter”, and no artifice can hide the traces of an old
“_cante-fable_”. The wicked step-mother of all fairy-tales transforms the
prince into a bird; but the spy set to watch the princess at last falls
asleep, and then the princess opens her little window and sings:

    “_Oiseau bleu, couleur de temps,_
    _Vole à moi, promptement_”.

“These,” explains Madame la Comtesse, “are her own words, which it has
been thought best to keep unchanged”. Elsewhere she is less concerned for
her originals. Her “_Finette Cendron_” (the English “Finetta”) is an
odd mixture of Perrault’s “Cinderella” and “Little Thumb”, in which both
stories are spoilt.

Gold and silver are the meanest ornaments in these fairy novels; they
have much of the glitter of a transformation scene. When the colours
fade, there is only a confused memory of the setting; but fairies and
talking animals remain. Children are not likely to forget “The White
Cat”, “The Hind in the Wood”, or that lurker in dark corners of the
nursery, “The Yellow Dwarf”.

As the century advanced, grown-up persons from time to time ventured
into the unknown regions of romance; and it is odd to find that the more
thrilling their discoveries in poetry and fiction, the more determined
they were to hide them from children, or to cloak them with moral

The rhymed “_Moralités_” which Perrault added to his tales were a tactful
concession to public opinion. No moralist ever succeeded in reforming
Puss in Boots, though one, early in the nineteenth century, claimed him
as the ancestor of a _Moral Cat_. It is clear, however, that Perrault,
left to himself, would have trusted his readers to find their own morals;
for in the dedication to his _Contes_ he says: “they all contain a very
obvious moral, and one that shows itself more or less according to the
insight of the reader.”

The task of reconciling parents and children upon the vexed question of
the supernatural was achieved by Madame le Prince de Beaumont, with her
educational or moral fairy-tales.

Allegorical persons often appeared in the court adaptations with names
and images drawn from classical authority. Mlle. L’Héritier had already
foisted into the old folk-tale of “Diamonds and Toads” a fairy called
“_Eloquentia Nativa_”; but Madame de Beaumont’s tales were simpler
and more convincing. From the parental point of view she had undoubted
advantages over her predecessors in the fairy-tale, for, in the words of
an editor of the _Cabinet des Fées_, she “devoted herself entirely to the
education of children”.

Born in 1711, six years after the death of Madame D’Aulnoy, she spent a
great part of her life in London. Her _Magasin des Enfans_, published in
1757,[27] properly belongs to the type of moral miscellany introduced
by Sarah Fielding’s Governess[28]; but the schoolroom setting could
not spoil fairy-tales which, however obvious their moral purposes, had
refreshing touches of humour. In her intercourse with English children,
Madame de Beaumont had somehow acquired a belief in the educational value
of nonsense.

Charles Lamb’s rhyme of “Prince Dorus” is simply an adaptation of Madame
de Beaumont’s “_Prince Désir_”; her story of “The Three Wishes” found
in so many chap-books, is a well-known “droll”, and there are playful
touches in her most serious tales.

Yet a child might venture a protest on discovering that the little white
rabbit in “_Prince Chéri_”, that leaps into the King’s arms as he rides
hunting, is an educational fairy in disguise; and it is impossible not to
sympathise with the prince who, in spite of a ring that pricks whenever
he is naughty, becomes a scapegrace, and has to undergo a Circeian
transformation ere he is reformed.

Like all successful _gouvernantes_, Madame de Beaumont can be severe. Her
fairy in “_Fatal et Fortune_” deserves a place in Spartan folklore; this
is how she answers the mother who pleads for a son doomed to misfortune:

“_Vous ne savez pas ce que vous demandez. S’il n’est pas malheureux, il
sera méchant!_”

One at least of Madame de Beaumont’s tales is worthy of Perrault. “Beauty
and the Beast” would decide her title to nursery fame, if she had written
nothing else. In 1740, Madame de Villeneuve had spun out the same theme
at extraordinary length; but the story as children know it first appeared
in the _Magasin des Enfans_, and it bears all the marks of a genuine

It was late in the century before the Arabian tales,[29] translated from
the French of M. Galland in 1708, appeared in English children’s books.
In France, they received a welcome surpassing that of the fairy-tales,
and produced a fantastic literature of supposed translations, in
which Eastern imagery and the incidents of Western folk-lore were
curiously mixed. Yet the new pattern was not altogether incongruous.
Dwarfs and magicians were the stock figures of romance; the Quest of
the Talking Bird, Singing Tree and Yellow Water was but a variant of
the Fortune-Seeker’s adventures; the Magic Mirror a commonplace of
fairy-tales; and there were old ballads, like “The Heir of Linne”, with
Arabian, Persian and Turkish variants.

Eastern stories, nevertheless, had more in common with Court fairy-tales
than with those of natural growth. They were woven, like oriental
carpets, for Kings’ palaces, and the “Folk” elements were simply repeated
as a part of the design. Children as yet knew nothing of these visions
of splendour and terror, which turned the French Court from its pose of
simplicity, and coloured the whole fabric of the _Cabinet des Fées_.

But the British tendency to moralise was never stronger than in the
eighteenth century, and eastern fables and aphorisms were rich in
illustrations of philosophy. Thus, for the greater part of the century,
the English oriental tale was moralised, and if children came into any
part of their legacy, it was either by courtesy of the moralist, or
through illicit traffic with the pedlar.

Neither Steele nor Johnson mentions these tales among children’s books;
but the “precious treasure” of Wordsworth’s childhood, a “little yellow
canvas-covered book”,[30] although it was but “a slender abstract of the
Arabian tales,” was within the reach of other children. Wordsworth tells
how he and another boy hoarded their savings for many months to buy the
“four large volumes” of “kindred matter”. Failing in resolution, they
never got beyond the smaller book; yet this, if it had only the tales
of the Merchant and the Ginni, the Fisherman, the Sleeper Awakened and
the Magic Horse, would build them a city of dreams. Whereas it almost
certainly contained the Voyages of Sinbad,[31] and the two apocryphal
tales, never doubted by children, “Aladdin” and “The Forty Thieves”.

Such a book was a maker of magicians. The child that possessed it found
himself richer than Ali Baba, for he knew the magic formula that would
open all the treasure-caves of the East. He was the shipmate of Sinbad,
that sailor of enchanted seas; the fellow of Aladdin, possessing the
ring and lamp that gave him mastery over slaves “terrible in aspect,
vast in stature as the giants”, who could carry him a thousand leagues
while he slept, or build in a single night a palace “more splendid than
imagination can conceive”.

The tastes of Wordsworth and his schoolfellows were probably more
catholic than those of the little De Quinceys, who discussed in
the nursery the relative merits of the _Arabian Nights_, and dared
to question the judgment of Mrs. Barbauld, “the queen of all the
bluestockings”, because she preferred “Aladdin” and “Sinbad” to all the
rest.[32] Most children would agree with her, for even the cave where
they measured gold like grain lacks the splendour of the garden in which
the trees “were all covered with precious stones instead of fruit, and
each tree was of a different kind, and had different jewels of all
colours, green and white and yellow and red.”

The palace, though all its storeys were of jasper and alabaster and
porphyry and mosaics, was not half so dazzling as this garden of jewels.

As to “Sinbad”, it may be, as De Quincey judged, “a mere succession of
adventures”; to a child, it is a second Odyssey. The giant that throws
masses of rock at Sinbad’s raft is a brother of the Cyclops; Proteus
is one with the Old Man of the Sea. But the adventures of Odysseus are
plain and straight compared with the extravagant splendours of this
merchant-adventurer. He walks by a river of dreams (which is yet a real
river) till he finds the tall vessel that pleases him; but once afloat
with black slaves and pages and bales of merchandise, he cares less for
the occupation of traffic than for “the pleasure of seeing the countries
and islands of the world”.

This is the very desire of the child; nor did dream-islands ever yield
romance in greater profusion. One, indeed, is no island, but a great
fish, on whose back the sand has been heaped up till trees have grown
upon it; no sooner is the sailors’ fire alight than the solid ground
sinks under their feet. In another, Sinbad descries from the top of a
tree a “white object of enormous size”, the egg of a Roc, that gigantic
bird whose wings obscure the sun.

Sir John Mandeville might have set down the adventures of the rhinoceros
and the elephant, the valley of diamonds or the river of jacinths and
pearls; but his account could never compare with this for reality.

These voyages among the islands, from El-Basrah to Sarandib, though they
are set down in the language of myth, are as easy to trace upon a map as
the wanderings of Odysseus between Troy and Ithaca. Nor is the Eastern
story-teller without a Homeric interest in things seen and discovered,
both great and small: a thousand horsemen clad in gold and silk, or a
letter sent by the King of Sarandib to Harun Er-Rashid, written “on
the skin of the Khawi, which is finer than parchment”, in writing of

The quality of realism is indeed one of the distinguishing features
of Eastern romance. Sinbad’s account of the building of his raft from
the planks and ropes of the wrecked ship almost reads like an entry
in Crusoe’s journal, and there is the characteristic opening which
simulates a narrative of fact: “In the time of the Khalifeh, the Prince
of the Faithful Harun Er-Rashid, in the city of Baghdad”. All the sounds
and colours of the East are in the setting of these tales, all the
details of life and traffic; and yet it is never out of keeping with
the supernatural. Wizards and fairies simply move among the natural
inhabitants of bazaars or palaces,—a thing in no way surprising to a
child; and forms of enchantment surpassing the illusions of a dream rise
up in existing cities.

In a realistic age, such a setting would atone for the elements of
unreality; yet the authors of the _Tatler_ and _Spectator_ (those gentle
schoolmasters of grown-up children) held it of less account than the
aptness of the stories to “reflection” and philosophy. For this they
could forgive “that Oriental extravagance which is mixed with it”; but
the more philosophical the tale, the less it needed a real background
and moving figures. Vague allusions took the place of description, and
incidents were turned to illustrate particular virtues or to point the
arguments of Mr. Locke. Thus treated, the stories were said to be “writ
after the Eastern manner, but _somewhat more correct_.”

Johnson followed the same method, but with more profound philosophy, in
the _Rambler_; and it was in this “moralised” form that Eastern tales
came, straight from the pages of the _Spectator_ and the _Rambler_,
into the first books which John Newbery devised “for the Amusement and
Instruction” of children.

Thus the story of Alnascar, the Persian Glassman,[33] is printed in
the last section (“Letters, Poems, Tales and Fables”) of _A Museum for
Young Gentlemen and Ladies_: or, _a Private Tutor for little Masters and
Misses_ (1763); and the _Twelfth Day Gift_ (1767) has Johnson’s tale of
Obidah and the Hermit,[34] here called “The Progress of Life”.

Nor was there any attempt to choose the lighter and more entertaining
stories for children. Such a tale, for example, as Will Honeycomb’s
of Pug’s adventures (_Spectator_, 343), which Addison borrowed from
the _Chinese Tales_, never found its way into the early children’s
miscellanies, though Mrs. Barbauld, at the close of the century, produced
a somewhat similar series of adventures in _Evenings at Home_.

In France, as in England, there were Eastern tales which came half way
between the romance of pure adventure and the “Moral Tale”. Marmontel
chose an Eastern setting for two of his stories; but English writers
for children not unnaturally preferred Johnson’s “oriental” examples
of conduct and duty, and were willing to sacrifice interest to moral

Johnson himself would have advised them better. “Babies do not want to
hear about babies,” he told Mrs. Thrale; “they like to be told of giants
and castles, and of somewhat which can stretch and stimulate their little

He expressly warned her against the nursery editions which contained, as
a substitute for genuine romance, his own moralised “Eastern tales”. But
the Great Cham’s remarks upon children’s books were not published with
his works, and parents went on buying the books which he declared that
children never read.

Mrs. Sheridan’s _Nourjahad_ (1767) appeared as a nursery chap-book in
1808, and Miss Edgeworth, in her tale of “Murad the Unlucky” (one of the
_Popular Tales_), gives similar contrasted examples of wisdom and folly.

Minor moralists were unnumbered. Mr. Cooper, the author of _Blossoms of
Morality_, having by his own account “accidentally met with a French
edition of the Arabian Nights during a trip on the Continent”, and being
“induced to wade through it, having no other book at hand”, was so far
moved by the entertainment as to select and adapt some of the tales “for
Youth”, under the title of _The Oriental Moralist_.[36]

A remark at the close of “Prince Agib and the Adamantine Mountain”
gives a fair example of his treatment: “It may not be amiss to remind
my youthful readers that an unwarrantable curiosity, and a degree of
obstinacy too natural to young people, were the causes of the third
Calender losing his eye”.

The author of _The Governess_; or, _Evening Amusements at a Boarding
School_, though she allows Persian stories, admits that whenever she
found “a sentiment that would answer her purpose”, she did not hesitate
to “make it breathe from the lips of the Eastern Sage”.

_The Grateful Turk_, one of Thomas Day’s moral tales, appeared in the
same year as Mrs. Pilkington’s _Asiatic Princess_, and Miss Porter
followed with _The Two Princes of Persia_, “adapted to youth”. Alluring
titles, such as “The Ruby Heart” and “The Enchanted Mirror” were another
means of recommending improving histories.

Yet the oriental tale suffered less than native romance and folk-lore,
by this sort of adaptation. Perhaps the Jinn, being “the slaves of him
who held the lamp”, or “of him on whose hand was the ring”, were more
helpless than other spirits in the power of the Moralist.

English fairies were not so submissive; indeed they played strange tricks
with the little didactic works that bore their names.

Already (in 1746) Tom Thumb had turned pedagogue and published his
“Travels”,[37] a barefaced introduction to Topography. _Tom Thumb’s
Folio_ (1768) was followed in 1780 by _Tom Thumb’s Exhibition_, “being
an account of many valuable and surprising curiosities which he had
collected in the course of his travels, for the instruction and amusement
of the British Youths”.

This is somewhat more entertaining than the “Travels”, having an odd
humour of its own; but the Tom Thumb of the Exhibition has changed his
fairy dress for a schoolmaster’s gown, and lies in wait for pupils “in a
large commodious room at Mr. Lovegood’s, number 3 in Wiseman’s Buildings,
at the upper end of Education Road”.

Here he examines, under the lens of an “Intellectual Perspective Glass”,
the unreasonable things which please a child. For example, unripe apples
or gooseberries thus scrutinized, “instantly appear to be changed into a
swarm of worms and other devouring reptiles”.

From this it is tempting to infer that the same merciless glass had
discovered, instead of the traditional wren or robin, that “little
feathered songster called the _Advice Bird_” which a child might see
at the Exhibition. Such a lens, focussed upon Whittington’s Cat, would
doubtless prove it a figment, or applied to a magic sword, might
instantly change it to a piece of rusty iron.

Old ballads suffered the same transforming process. Robin Goodfellow,[38]
dragged from his haunts to show “a virtuous little mortal” the way to
Fairyland, took on the likeness of a Philosopher, the better to fool his

Fairyland, he asserts, is “neither a continent nor an island, and yet it
is both or either. It exists in the air, at a distance of about five feet
and a half or six feet at most from the surface of the Earth”.

The solution of this pleasing riddle is found in a diagram of the human
frame, whereon the Fairyland of Philosophy is shown to exist nowhere but
in a man’s head, hard by those notable tracts, the “Land of Courage” and
the “Land of Dumplins”.

A knavish sprite, this, who can find matter for jests in a fairy
revolution; for by his account, “the reigning Monarch Fancy, and Whim,
his royal Consort” have usurped the throne of Oberon; and Imagination is
their eldest son.

In such an age, the boldest outlaw would have much ado to rescue
Robin Hood; and since Robin could point but a one-sided moral, the
writer of little books forgot his virtues and published his “Life”
as a “Warning-piece”. He, forsooth, “did not know how to work”, had
“neglected to learn a trade”, and being justly outlawed, skulked with
his “gang” in Sherwood Forest, living “_what they called_ a merry life”.

_The Two Children in the Wood_ afforded ampler scope for moral contrasts.
Addison’s praise had included even the pretty fiction of the robins, on
the authority of Horace and his doves; but the makers of toy-books were
not satisfied with this. They expunged the robins and prepared two prose
versions of the ballad, one expanding the story into a novel of domestic
life, and the other marring it with a happy ending.[39]

The novel, an amusing medley, deals in an underplot with the adventures
of the wicked Uncle at sea, laying bare a past about which the ballad was
silent; the rest is concerned with the home life of the two children,
and contains a chapter of stories told for their benefit. At the end (by
way of reparation, perhaps) the ballad itself is printed. The novelist
carries enough moral ballast to float it all, and anticipates its effect
in rhyme:

    “The tender Tale must surely please.
    If told with sympathetic ease;
    Read, then, the Children in the Wood,
    And you’ll be virtuous and good.”

But of all these “restorations”, none was a greater outrage than the
attempt of a nursery moralist to rebuild the Enchanted Castle of Romance.

“The History of the Enchanted Castle; or, The Prettiest Book for
Children” appeared in Francis Newbery’s list in 1777, and was reprinted
for Harris early in the nineteenth century. On the title page it is
further described as “the Enchanted Castle, situated in one of the
Fortunate Isles and governed by the _Giant Instruction_. Written for
the Entertainment of little Masters and Misses by Don Stephano Bunyano,
Under-Secretary to the aforesaid Giant”.

The wheel has come full circle: folk-tales, ballads, romances, not one
of the forms of popular literature has escaped. Here at last is the
giant himself surrendering his stronghold to the moralist, delivering up
captives and stolen, treasure, engaging Secretaries, and parcelling out
the Enchanted Castle into a Picture Gallery, Museum and Library.

The parallel between the Giant Instruction and Giant Despair is
sufficiently obvious; but the giant’s under-secretary, with official
sagacity, turns it to account. He boldly proclaims himself “a distant
relation of the famous John Bunyan, the pious and admired author of the
_Pilgrim’s Progress_”, and proceeds to explain the symbolic pictures and
curiosities in the Castle, after the manner of Mr. Interpreter.

Yet there is one rare thing among the oddities of this little book; a
statement of aim which involves direct criticism of existing children’s
books. This betrays the Giant’s intention to make children “as capable
of thinking and understanding what is what (according to their years) as
their Papas and Mammas, or as the greatest Philosophers and Divines in
the whole Country”.

To this end it is forbidden to present even “very little Masters and
Misses” with “idle nonsensical stories” and “silly unmeaning rhymes”.

It is little wonder that Wordsworth, remembering

    “A race of real children; not too wise,
    Too learned, or too good....”,

denounced moralist and pedagogue, and cried in vain for the old nursery

    “Oh! give us once again the wishing-cap
    Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat
    Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood
    And Sabra in the forest with St. George!”



    Locke and the baby Spectator—Gulliver in the nursery—The
    children’s bookseller—_A Little Pretty Pocket Book_, _The
    Circle of the Sciences_ and _The Philosophy of Tops and
    Balls_—Mr. Newbery’s shop in St. Paul’s Churchyard—_The
    Lilliputian Magazine_—“The History of Mr. Thomas Trip”—Nursery
    “Richardsons”—_Mother Goose’s Melody_—“A very great Writer
    of very little Books”—_The History of Goody Two-Shoes_ as an
    epitome of the Lilliputian Library—The question of Goldsmith’s
    authorship—Late “Lilliputians”—The Wyse Chylde in many
    rôles—_Juvenile Trials_—_The Juvenile Biographer_—Lilliputian
    Letters—A hint of revolution—The new _Tatler_ and _Spectator_—A
    farthing sugar-paper series—Lilliputian books in the provinces.

For every parent that read Locke’s _Thoughts_, a hundred took his ideas
at second hand from _The Spectator_. Many, indeed, seem to have confused
his notion of childhood with the description of the baby Addison, who
threw away his rattle before he was two months old, and would not make
use of his coral until they had taken away the bells from it.

It was no new thing to regard a child as a small man or woman. Since
Shakespeare’s time, children had followed the fashions of their elders.
But the tastes of grown-up Elizabethans were not so different from those
of children. Never, until the eighteenth century, had a child been
taught to think and act like a man of middle age. The little Georgian
walked gravely where his for-bears danced, and was expected to read
dwarf essays, extracts from Addison and Pope, and little novels after

Swift’s engrossing pictures of Lilliput had no sooner captured the
nursery than grown-up persons began to fancy themselves in the part of
Gulliver stooping to instruct a little nation; and the logical outcome of
this was a “Lilliputian Library”.

The ingenious artist of an older generation, who could put “all th’
Iliads in a Nut” must have passed on his secret to the makers of
toy-books; and of these the first and greatest was John Newbery, a
descendant of the very Newbery who, in the sixteenth century, had
published the rhyme of the “great Marchaunt Man”.

There is no better portrait of John Newbery than the one drawn by
Goldsmith in _The Vicar of Wakefield_. That “good-natured man” with his
“red pimpled face” who befriended Dr. Primrose when he lay sick at a
roadside inn, was “no other than the philanthropic bookseller of St.
Paul’s Churchyard, who has written so many little books for children”.

Goldsmith was writing for Newbery between 1762 and 1767, and on more than
one occasion he, like his Vicar, “borrowed a few pieces” from the kindly
publisher. He could not have chosen a more graceful way of thanking him,
nor one more likely to give him pleasure, than by thus imitating Mr.
Newbery’s own method of internal advertisement, associating him with
those “little books for children”, and adding that “he called himself
their friend, but he was the friend of all mankind”.

The rest of the passage recalls Dr. Johnson’s caricature of Newbery as
“Jack Whirler,” in _The Idler_:

“Overwhelmed as he is with business, his chief desire is to have still
more. Every new proposal takes possession of his thoughts; he soon
balances probabilities, engages in the project, brings it almost to
completion and then forsakes it for another.”

But Goldsmith again lays stress on his pet project:

“He was no sooner alighted but he was in haste to be gone; for he was
ever on business of the utmost importance, and was at that time actually
compiling materials for the history of one Mr. Thomas Trip.”

An account of John Newbery’s career would itself furnish matter for a
children’s book. He was a very Whittington of booksellers—a farmer’s son
who made his way in the world “by his talents and industry and a great
love of books”. Every day of his life was an adventure, and he never lost
his Pepysian interest in men and things. Goldsmith’s story of the inn (or
its counterpart) might almost have come out of the pocket-book in which
Mr. Newbery kept a record of his journey through England in 1740, with
notes of his various “projects” and purchases.[40]

It was at Reading, where he had begun his trade of printer and publisher,
that he produced his first children’s book: _Spiritual Songs for
Children_, by one of the many imitators of Dr. Watts;[41] but the genuine
“Newberys” appeared after he settled in London, first at the Bible and
Crown, without Temple Bar, and afterwards at the famous little shop in
St. Paul’s Churchyard.

He began with miscellanies—quaint imitations of the periodicals,
announced by whimsical “advertisements”, and professing the aims and
methods of John Locke: _A Little Pretty Pocket Book_ (1744),[42] and _The
Lilliputian Magazine_, advertised in the _General Evening Post_, March 4,

Two quotations in the _Pocket Book_ suggest a connection between two
prevailing interests of the day, Education and Landscape-gardening. The
first is from Dryden:

    “Children, like tender Osiers, take the Bow
    And as they first are fashioned always grow”;

the second from Pope:

    “Just as the Twig is bent the Tree’s inclined,
    ’Tis Education forms the vulgar Mind”.

But the prefatory letter addressed “To all Parents, Guardians,
Governesses, etc.”, illustrates the difference between the “fashioning”
of trees and children. It is all pure Locke:

“Would you have a virtuous Son, instil into him the Principles of
Morality early.... Would you have a wise Son, teach him to reason early.
Let him read and make him understand what he reads. No Sentence should be
passed over without a strict Examination of the Truth of it.... Subdue
your children’s Passions, curb their Temper and make them subservient to
the Rules of Reason; and this is not to be done by Chiding, Whipping or
severe Treatment, but by Reasoning and mild Discipline.”

So much for the Parents who bought the _Pretty Pocket Book_. The rest is
a judicious mixture of Amusement and Instruction for its readers. There
are alphabets big and little, “select Proverbs for the use of children”,
_Moralités_ in plenty; but by the precise authority of Mr. Locke, there
are also pictures of sorts, songs and games and rhymed fables. There is
even a germ of the “Moral Tale” in accounts of good children, set down
somewhat in the manner of seventeenth century “Characters”.

Between this and _The Lilliputian Magazine_ came an instructive
“Snuff-box” series: The _Circle of the Sciences_,[43] described in the
Advertisement as “a compendious library, whereby each Branch of Polite
Learning is rendered extremely easy and instructive”. But the Newbery
Pedant is never quite serious. When, later, he sets himself to adapt the
Newtonian System “to the Capacities of young Gentlemen and Ladies”, he
does it in a _Philosophy_ of _Tops and Balls_,[44] and seems immensely
diverted by this notion of making the Giant Instruction stoop to play.

In 1745 John Newbery left the Bible and Crown, and set up at the Bible
and Sun, near the Chapter House in St. Paul’s Churchyard. By this time he
had become “a merchant in medicines as well as books” and had acquired
a partnership in the sale of the famous fever powders of his friend Dr.
James, which he advertised with other remedies in his nursery books,
often working them into the story.

Like all really busy people, he could always find time for a new
enterprise; but the “little books” were no mere relaxation from serious
work. His son says that at this time he was “in the full employment of
his talents in writing and publishing books of amusement and instruction
for children”, and adds that “the call for them was immense, an edition
of many thousands being sometimes exhausted during the Christmas

This, in fact, was a favourite “project” of Mr. Newbery’s, never forsaken
for another, but continued up to the time of his death.

One can imagine him, delighted as Mr. Pepys with his puppet
show,—inspecting the woodcuts, examining different patterns of Dutch
flowered paper for the binding, deciding the exact size (4 inches by 2¾)
for the biography of Mr. Trip; or watching the young apprentices (these
paper covers were painted by children) each filling a row of diamond
spaces with his appointed colour.

His next venture was _The Lilliputian Magazine_[46] announced as “an
attempt to amend the World, to render the Society of Man more amiable,
and to re-establish the Simplicity, Virtue and Wisdom of the Golden Age”.

Details of the proposed method are set forth in the following “Dialogue”
between a gentleman and the Author:

    _Gentleman_: I have seen, Sir, an Advertisement in the Papers of the
                 Lilliputian Magazine to be published at Three Pence a
                 Month: pray, what is the Design of it?

    _Author_:    Why, Sir, it is intended for the Use of Children, as you
                 may perceive by the Advertisement, and my Design is, by
                 Way of _History_ and _Fable_, to sow in their Minds the
                 Seeds of Polite Literature and to teach them the great
                 Grammer (_sic_) of the Universe: I mean the Knowledge
                 of Men and Things.

The framework of the book suggests a combination (in miniature) of
the Royal Society and the Spectator Club; for the various Pieces are
submitted to a Society of young Gentlemen and Ladies (including a young
Prince and several of the young Nobility) presided over by little Master
Meanwell (who by reading a great many Books and observing everything his
Tutor said to him, acquired a great deal of Wisdom).

The “Histories” and “Fables” that follow are not mixed from Mr.
Locke’s prescription. They are amusing parodies of Mr. Newbery’s (or
his contributor’s) reading from the _Spectator_ and _Gulliver_ and
Richardson’s novels. Not even Gulliver escapes the moralising tendency,
and Lilliput (here translated to the “Island of Angelica”) is a new
Utopia, where no man is allowed more money than he needs. The inhabitants
are so little removed from common experience that they appear to be “no
more than a gigantic Sort of Lilliputian, about the size of the Fairies
in Mr. Garrick’s Queen Mab”.[47]

Locke would have scorned the fanciful descriptions of this _Voyage
Imaginaire_; nor would “A History of the Rise and Progress of Learning in
Lilliput” (which precedes it) have pleased him better; he never could
have understood the sly humour of its author.

Indeed, but for the date, there might be some truth in the suggestion
that Goldsmith edited _The Lilliputian Magazine_. For among its
contributions was that notable “History of Mr. Thomas Trip” in which his
philanthropic bookseller was engaged; and in the “History”, a rhyme of
“Three Children Sliding on the Ice”[48] that Goldsmith might well have
invented to temper the virtues of Mr. Trip; for indeed, this hero, though
he scarcely overtops Tom Thumb, is the Wyse Chylde in little: “whenever
you see him, you will always find a book in his hand”.

But Goldsmith was not yet in London when _The Lilliputian Magazine_
appeared; the rhyme of “Three Children” is now said to be John Gay’s;
and it was Goldsmith himself who named John Newbery as Tommy Trip’s

The other contributions are mere attempts to fit children of middle
age with little novels of morality and sentiment,—surely not the least
flattering imitations of Richardson.[49]

First comes the “History of Florella, sent by an unknown Hand (and may,
for aught we know, have been published before)”, and after an interval
for further reference and collation, “The History of Miss Sally Silence,
communicated by Lady Betty Lively”. But neither the story nor the
sentiment rings true. As yet, the Lilliputian novel has no life: and all
that there is to be said of Miss Sally is condensed in her epitaph:

            “Here lie the Remains of the Duchess of Downright:
                      Who, when a Maid, was no other
                             than Sarah Jones
                        A poor Farmer’s Daughter.
                   From her Attachment to Goodness she
                              became great.
                 Her Virtue raised her from a mean State
                        To a high Degree of Honour
          Her Innocence procured her Peace in her last Moments.
                         She smiled even in Agony
                  And embraced Death as a friendly Pilot
                           Who was to steer her
                    To a more exalted State of Bliss.”

Here the author, as if doubting his effect, adds a direct appeal:

                             “Little Reader,
                Whoever thou art, observe these her Rules
                            And become thyself
                     A Copy of this bright Example.”

It was somewhere between 1760 and 1765, when a latent spirit of romance
was beginning to move the grown-up world, that the children’s bookseller
turned his attention to Nursery Rhymes.

Some of these were already in print. _Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book_[50]
had appeared in 1744: two tiny volumes in Dutch flowered boards, of which
the second only has survived. This was a great advance on the song-books
commonly given to children as soon as they could read; but there is
something more than the usual nonsense and rhythm in the Newbery rhymes.
The very title: _Mother Goose’s Melody_,[51] brings them into touch with
the first book of fairy-tales; and indeed those two voices (the child’s
and the man’s) can be heard here as in Perrault—a merry new partnership
of song and laughter—, the one piping high in lively see-saw, the other
declaiming a mock-learned “Preface”, fitting each rhyme with an ironic
“Note” or “Maxim”, burlesquing the commentators and setting the wit of
nursery sages against the wisdom of the pedants.

The editor of _Mother Goose’s Melody_, although the Preface declares him
“_a very great Writer_ of very little Books”, has none of that contempt
for “Nonsense” which philosophers are apt to show. He traces “the Custom
of making Nonsense Verses in our Schools” to “the Old British Nurses,
the first Preceptors of Youth”, and speaks of them with evident respect.
Yet he shows no bias towards the more imaginative absurdities. It is the
use of a rhyme for ironic comment, or its lyric quality that directs his

The song about Betty Winckle’s Pig that lived in clover (“but now he’s
dead and that’s all over”) is annotated thus: “A Dirge is a Song for
the Dead; but whether this was made for Betty Winckle or her Pig is
uncertain—no Notice being taken of it by Cambden or any of the famous

This is “Amphion’s Song of Eurydice”:

    “I won’t be my Father’s Jack
    I won’t be my Mother’s Jill
    I will be the Fiddler’s Wife
    And have Musick when I will.
        T’other little Tune
        T’other little Tune
      Prithee, Love, play me.
        T’other little Tune.”

And this the comment (in small type, for Parents): “Those Arts are the
most valuable which are of the greatest Use”.

Such gentle irony would be lost upon the serious student of Lilliputian
Ethics. Grown-up wiseacres and little philosophers must have puzzled
their heads in vain over some of these “Maxims” and exclaimed at the
effrontery of a Writer, however “great”, who, after suggesting that an
unmeaning rhyme “might serve as a Chapter of Consequence in the New Book
of Logick”, could add (in a note upon “Margery Daw”): “It is a mean and
scandalous Practice among Authors to put Notes to Things that deserve no
Notice. (Grotius)”.

There is no direct evidence of Goldsmith’s hand in this; but he was
well acquainted with nonsense-songs, and Miss Hawkins, writing of her
childhood in a letter, connects him with a nursery-rhyme: “I little
thought”, she says, “what I should have to boast when Goldsmith taught me
to play Jack and Gill by two bits of paper on his fingers.”

If this “very great Writer of very little Books” was not Goldsmith, it is
an extraordinary coincidence that the rhyme in the Preface should be the
same that he sang to his friends on the first night of _The Good Natur’d
Man_, and “never consented to sing but on special Occasions”—which runs

    “There was an old Woman tossed in a Blanket,
      Seventeen times as high as the moon,
    But where she was going no mortal could tell.
      For under her arm she carried a Broom,
    Old Woman, old Woman, old Woman, said I,
    Whither, ah whither, ah whither so high?
      To sweep the Cobwebs from the Sky,
      And I’ll be with you by and by.”

There is only one Lilliputian book that has been attributed to
Goldsmith with the consent of his biographer, and that is Mr. Newbery’s
masterpiece, the quaint and original _History of Goody Two-Shoes_.[52]

Here is the characteristic notice that appeared in _The London Chronicle_
(December 19-January 1, 1765):

“The Philosophers, Politicians, Necromancers, and the Learned in every
Faculty are desired to observe that on the 1st of January, being New
Year’s Day (Oh, that we may all lead new lives!), Mr. Newbery intends
to publish the following important Volumes, bound and gilt, and hereby
invites all his little Friends who are good to call for them at the Bible
and Sun, in St. Paul’s Churchyard: but those who are naughty are to have

Here follows a list of the “important Volumes”: “The Renowned History
of Giles Gingerbread: a little Boy who lived upon Learning;” Easter,
Whitsuntide and Valentine “Gifts”; “The Fairing”; and after these
an announcement of greater interest, that “there is in the Press and
speedily will be published, either by Subscription or otherwise, as the
Public shall please to determine, The History of Little Goody Two-shoes,
otherwise called Margery Two-Shoes”.

The “Gifts” are so many variants of the Lilliputian Miscellany,[53] and
as to _Giles Gingerbread_, there is nothing about him to attract a child,
unless his name should conjure up a flavour of those gingerbread books
sold at Fairs, which could be eaten when the reading grew tedious. The
story (made to fit a penny chap-book) tells, without digression, how
young Gingerbread learnt to read, that he might have a fine coach and
emulate the success of one Sir Toby Wilson, who also was a poor man’s son.

But _Goody Two-shoes_, though it offers a similar prize for self-help,
teaches no such politic morality. Indeed, it shows what can be done with
the babies’ novel, by a writer who understands children and has a winning
gift of humour; but for all that, it presents in epitome the whole
Lilliputian Library.

The title-page at once proclaims its likeness to those records of
triumphant virtue, the nursery “Richardsons”; the “Introduction” is
a miniature essay on land-reform. Mr. Welsh, who reprinted _Goody
Two-Shoes_ in 1882, found an exact picture of the Deserted Village in the
Parish of Mouldwell, where little Margery’s father suffers the “wicked
Persecutions” of Sir Timothy Gripe and “an overgrown Farmer called

A passage at the close of the “Introduction” certainly lends some colour
to the idea that it was a half-playful study of Goldsmith’s, for his
serious argument:

“But what, says the Reader, can occasion all this? Do you intend this
for children, Mr. Newbery? Why, do you suppose this is written by Mr.
Newbery, Sir? This may come from another Hand. This is not the Book, Sir,
mentioned in the Title, but the Introduction to that Book; and it is
intended, Sir, not for those Sort of Children, but for Children of six
Feet high, of which ... there are many Millions in the Kingdom”.

The change, after all, is merely from Lilliput to Brobdignag,—a voyage
that represents no more difficulty to the editor than to Gulliver himself.

It is in Lilliputian pedagogy that the writer of _Goody Two-Shoes_ has so
completely outdistanced his fellows.

For although none of them could produce a more whole-hearted supporter of
Locke’s theories than “little Two-Shoes”, she wastes no time in abstract
reasoning, but puts them at once into practice.

No sooner did she learn to read (and that was startlingly soon) than she
began to teach her companions, and finding them by no means so quick nor
so diligent as herself, she cut out of several pieces of wood ten “Setts”
of large letters and ten of small (all printed very clear in the text);
“and every Morning she used to go round to teach the Children with these
Rattletraps in a Basket—_as you see in the Print_”.

The letter-games of Goody Two-Shoes were doubtless among the “twenty
other Ways” hinted at by Mr. Locke when he described his own, in which
“Children may be cozen’d into a Knowledge of the Letters”. There are
minute directions for playing them in the chapter that tells “How little
Two-Shoes became a _trotting Tutoress_”.

Nor is virtue (the philosopher’s chief concern) neglected for this matter
of mere learning. There are lessons and reflections enough for the old
“Schools of Virtue”; but little Margery’s true piety makes amends for her
preaching and saves her from the prudential excess of the “little Boy who
lived upon Learning”. When she admonished the sick gentleman for his
late hours by the example of the rooks, she forced him to laugh and admit
that she was “a sensible Hussey”. The Reader (more often admonished) does
the same.

In this blending of morality and humour, the author is only following
the practice of eighteenth century novelists. His morality (in the main,
very sound and reasonable) hangs by the humour of separate incidents; yet
these, together, form a sequence of moral and “cautionary” tales. There
is, for example, the warning against useless display in the account of
Lady Ducklington’s funeral,—“the Money they squandered away would have
been better laid out in little Books for Children, or in Meat, Drink and
Cloaths for the Poor”;—against superstition,—the story of the ghost in
the church, or the dramatic Witch story of the Second Part; and there are
parallel examples of kindness and good sense.

A small child would make his first reading by the woodcuts (which are
much like a child’s drawings): here, first, are little Margery and her
brother, left, like the Children in the Wood “to the Wide World”; here
is Tommy Two-Shoes (at an incredibly tender age) dressed like a little
sailor—“_Pray look at him_”,—and there again, wiping off Margery’s tears
with the end of his jacket—“_thus_”—and bidding her cry no more, for that
he will come to her again when he returns from sea. He is much blurred in
this picture—perhaps with tears.

At this point the story goes back to the frontispiece: by far the best
picture of Margery, in a setting of trees and fields, with a little house
on one side of her and a church in the distance. She is wearing her _two
shoes_ for the first time (for until a charitable good man gave her a
pair, she had but one): “stroking down her ragged Apron _thus_”, and
crying out: “_Two Shoes, Mame, see two Shoes_”.

Next comes that serious business of Letters and Syllables. But Somebody
(with a Basket of Rattle-traps) is at the door.

“Tap, tap, tap, who’s there?” (It might have been Red Riding-Hood! “_Toc,
toc! Qui est là?_”) But it is only little Goody Two-Shoes, greeting her
new scholar in the same childish voice.

Thus the little one gets through the lessons and proverbs of the next
few pages, and at Chapter VI, which tells “How the whole Parish was
frighted”, knows the triumph and delight of reading.

“Babies do not want to hear about babies”, said Dr. Johnson; but he was
never, like Goldsmith, intimate with the Nursery in all its moods, and it
did not occur to him that his favourite Tom Thumb was but a child seen
through the diminishing-glass of a woodcut.

This, moreover, is a story that _grows up_ in the reading. At Chapter VI,
there is no more baby-talk. These are mature, even elderly villagers who
are so “frighted” at the idea of a ghost in the church: the argument is
between the Parson, the Clerk and the Clerk’s Wife:

“I go. Sir, says William, why the Ghost would frighten me out of my
Wits.—Mrs. Dobbins too cried, and laying hold of her Husband said, he
should not be eat up by the Ghost. A Ghost, you Blockheads, says Mr.
Long in a Pet, did either of you ever see a Ghost, or know any Body that
did? Yes, says the Clerk, my Father did once in the Shape of a Windmill,
and it walked all round the Church in a white Sheet, with Jack Boots
on, and had a Gun by its Side instead of a Sword. A fine Picture of a
Ghost truly, says Mr. Long, give me the Key of the Church, you Monkey;
for I tell you there is no such Thing now, whatever may have been
formerly.—Then taking the Key, he went to the Church, all the People
following him. As soon as he had opened the Door, what Sort of a Ghost do
you think appeared? Why little _Two-shoes_, who being weary, had fallen
asleep in one of the Pews during the Funeral Service, and was shut in
all Night——”.

Such incidents would make even a grown-up reader forget the Lilliputian

Nor is the Second Part (as in other “Histories”) of less interest,
although it presents the dutiful contriving little Two-shoes as
“Principal of a Country College—for instructing little Gentlemen and
Ladies in the Science of A.B.C.”. A formidable theme, if her inventive
genius could not produce any number of variations upon Mr. Locke’s method
of playing at schools.

A reference to the _Spectator_ at the close of Part I would make Mistress
Two-Shoes a predecessor of Shenstone’s Schoolmistress; but this is
clearly an anachronism. The village Dame as Shenstone studies her, still

                              “disguised in look profound
    And eyes her fairy-Throng, and turns her Wheel around”;

whereas Goody Two-Shoes, knowing that “Nature intended Children should be
always in Action”, places her letters and alphabets all round the school,
so that everyone in turn is obliged to get up to fetch a letter or to
spell a word.

Her children have forgotten the hornbook, and with it, doubtless, “St.
George’s high Achievements” which used to decorate the back. It was
Shenstone’s Dame who kept “tway birchen Sprays” to reclaim her pupils’
wandering attention from St. George. But Mrs. Margery ruled “by Reasoning
and mild Discipline”, and could dispense with these.

“Her Tenderness extended not only to all Mankind, but even to all
Animals that were not noxious”. Such humanity alone (notwithstanding the
reservation) sets her above the poet’s heroine, to whose credit he could
only place

    “One ancient Hen she took Delight to feed
    The plodding Pattern of this busy Dame,
    Which ever and anon as she had need
    Into her School begirt with Chickens came.”

Indeed, Mrs. Margery surpasses Æsop and Tommy Trip in her manner of
pressing Beasts and Birds into the service of Education.

Locke, whose imagination had stopped short at pictures of animals,
would have detected the insidious workings of romance in a school where
the ushers were birds, where a dog acted as door-keeper and a pet lamb
carried home the books of the good children in turn.

Yet in another place, the youthful Dame shows herself a mistress of
utilitarian argument:

“Does not the Horse and the Ass carry you and your burthens? Don’t the Ox
plough your Ground, the Cow give you Milk, the Sheep cloath your Back,
the Dog watch your House, the Goose find you in Quills to write with, the
Hen bring Eggs for your Custards and Puddings, and the Cock call you up
in the Morning——? If so, how can you be so cruel to them, and abuse God
Almighty’s good Creatures?”

Thus the creatures are protected chiefly for their services; Nature,
as yet, is no more than a useful and necessary background. It is still
Humanity that counts.

As to Romance, the writer’s attitude must be judged by default. There is
but one reference to Fortunatus and Friar Bacon to indicate a preference
for works of Reason and Ingenuity.

This follows one of those quaint interludes that prove the quick wit and
hide the laughter of Mistress Two-Shoes. In her character of village
peacemaker, she contrives a “Considering Cap”, “almost as large as a
Grenadier’s, but of three equal Sides; on the first of which was written,
I may be wrong; on the second, It is fifty to one but you are; and on
the third, I’ll consider of it. The other Parts on the out-side, were
filled with odd Characters, as unintelligible as the Writings of the
old Egyptians; but within Side there was a Direction for its Use, of
the utmost Consequence; for it strictly enjoined the Possessor to put
on the Cap whenever he found his Passions begin to grow turbulent, and
not to deliver a Word whilst it was on, but with great Coolness and
Moderation.... They were bought by Husbands and Wives, who had themselves
frequent Occasion for them, and sometimes lent them to their Children.
They were also purchased in large Quantities by Masters and Servants; by
young Folks who were intent on Matrimony, by Judges, Jurymen, and even
Physicians and Divines: nay, if we may believe History, the Legislators
of the Land did not disdain the Use of them; and we are told, that when
any important Debate arose, _Cap was the Word_, and each House looked
like a grand Synod of Egyptian Priests.”

After this, lest the old spells should work upon some unguarded child,
Friar Bacon is called in, to advertise this “Charm for the Passions” in a
letter of advice:

“What was Fortunatus’ Wishing Cap when compared to this?... Remember what
was said by my Brazen Head, _Time is, Time was, Time is past_: now the
_Time is_, therefore buy the Cap immediately, and make a proper Use of
it, and be happy before the _Time is past_”.

The Learned Friar has burnt his books, and there is an end of Magic. Mrs.
Margery has no dealings in a “Gothick Mythology of Elves and Fairies”;
her Familiars are the tame creatures of her household, she does her
conjuring by the legitimate powers of Science. And when, through her
cleverness in contriving a weather-glass to save her neighbours’ hay, she
is accused of witchcraft by the people of other parishes, her advocate,
like a true Lilliputian, defends her with the arguments of Addison and

This witch-story is the climax (if such a haphazard little plot can have
a climax) and it gives a masterly last touch to the heroine’s portrait.

She is standing with all her pets about her, when Gaffer Goosecap (full
of the weather-glass mystery) comes to spy upon her:

“This so surprised the Man that he cried out a Witch! a Witch! upon this
she laughing, answered, a Conjurer! a Conjurer! and so they parted; but
it did not end thus, for a Warrant was issued out against Mrs. Margery,
and she was carried to a Meeting of the Justices, whither all the
Neighbours followed her”.

At the trial her triumph is complete. Even her judges join in the
laughter when she produces the weather-glass and cries: “If I am a Witch,
this is my Charm”.

The writer, whoever he was, had little to learn from Rousseau. Miss
Edgeworth herself could not have invented a more reasonable and
intelligent heroine.

It is easy to see why Charles Lamb put _Goody Two-Shoes_ among “the old
classics of the Nursery”[55], and no matter for wonder that it should be
set down to Goldsmith.

For apart from that hint of _The Deserted Village_ in the “Introduction”,
it has living characters, natural speech and incidents of genuine comedy.
The playful tenderness of the first chapters suggests Goldsmith’s
treatment of children, and the whole theme is near enough to his idea of
a story “like the old one of Whittington _were his Cat left out_”[56].
For if he ever had written such a story and managed to keep the cat out
of it, he would certainly have repented and introduced some other animal
in its place, or with native inconsistency, might have multiplied it into
a menagerie such as Goody Two-Shoes kept. The idea of talking animals
had once attracted him, and if he could write a good Fable, why not a

Forster records Godwin’s “strong persuasion” that Goldsmith wrote _Goody
Two-Shoes_, and Godwin, himself a publisher of children’s books, may
have had good reason for his belief; yet there is no certain evidence to
confirm it, nor will the book, as a whole, bear all the claims of its

Nichols, in his _Literary Anecdotes_,[57] associates this and other
“Lilliputian Histories” with the brothers Griffiths and Giles Jones, and
family tradition credits Giles with _Goody Two-Shoes_ as well as _Giles
Gingerbread_ and _Tommy Trip_; but if, as Goldsmith would have it, Mr.
Newbery was the real author of _Tommy Trip_, there is no reason why he
should not have had a hand in the rest. _Goody Two-Shoes_, in fact,
has several turns of speech and grammatical slips which occur in John
Newbery’s journal;[58] nor is it at all unlikely that Goldsmith, the
friend of Giles Jones and Newbery, contributed such lively matter as the
ghost and witch stories, or so quaint a fancy as the “Considering Cap”.

John Newbery’s successors[59] carried on the tradition, but at his death
the great period of “Lilliputian Histories” was past. Their numbers were
always increasing, but they were mostly imitations and moralised echoes
of folklore like _Tom Thumb’s Exhibition_ or _The Enchanted Castle_.

Yet there are a few late “Lilliputians” that have the true Newbery touch,
and even a fresh spice of satire. _The Lilliputian Masquerade_,[60]
though it goes back to _Gulliver_, belongs to the age of the Pantheon
and Almack’s, and its gay “Masks” (all “Lilliputians of Repute”) include
two romantic surprises. For in the company of Sir William Wise and Sir
Francis Featherbrain of Butterfly Hall, there is the unexpected figure of
a Beggar “singing merrily”, and one undoubted harbinger of the New Age—a
little hero of Blake and of Charles Lamb,—the Chimney Sweeper, new as yet
to the mystery of his “cloth”.

In the meantime, a whole section of the dwarf library was devoted
to the Wyse Chylde in a variety of rôles. Following that “Rise and
Progress of Learning in Lilliput”, there came a formidable crowd of
little Philosophers, little Statesmen, little Judges, little Divines
and (to keep an accurate record of their careers) little Historians and

“Self-Government” in the Schoolroom (by no means, as some may suppose,
a present-day innovation) made its first appearance in _Juvenile
Trials_,[61] the acknowledged device of a Tutor and Governess who
prescribe it as a “Regimen” for their “unruly Pupils”, and thus,
profiting by the wisdom of Cato, induce the authors of great evils to
remove them.

This is the first hint of a Lilliputian Republic: the logical outcome of
Locke’s principles in a revolutionary age. The Lilliputians give their
best support to the new Government and throw themselves with zest into
their parts.

Little Judge Meanwell who, though but twelve years old, has “all the
Appearance of Gravity and Magistracy”, in a long robe and full-bottomed
wig, anticipates parental criticism by reminding the public that “neither
Vanity, nor Ambition, nor the Desire of governing Others at an Age in
which he stands so much in Need of being governed himself, has raised him
to this Office, which he cannot execute but with Regret”.

He adds (doubtless after consultation with his Leaders) that the Trials,
as the result of their “wisest Deliberation”, are by no means to be
treated as “the Sport of Boys and Girls”.

The Tutor and Governess take full advantage of the scheme, and after the
royal ceremony of inauguration, leave the unruly ones to the judgment
of their peers. Perhaps it is this unwonted freedom which lets loose a
stream of live and humorous dialogue; for no sooner do the “Trials” begin
than these Lilliputians betray the natural propensities and dramatic
instincts of real children.

Mr. Newbery himself could hardly have drawn better pictures of country
life, or spoken better dialect than the Farmer in one of these “trials”.
In another (which suggests the ordeal of the Knave of Hearts) the
evidence is not unworthy of Defoe,—the Prosecution putting in a plan of
the kitchen where the stolen plum-cake was baked; and a third,—the case
of Miss Stirling _versus_ Miss Delia, “for raising Strife and Contention
among her Schoolfellows”—is wholly “conveyed” from Sarah Fielding’s
_Governess_,[62] a source that may explain many unexpected features in
the book.

But the old standards of Authority are restored in _The Juvenile
Biographer_,[63] a collection of “characters” in moral contrast, with a
“Bust of the little Author” as frontispiece. Some account of him at the
end, had it been prefatory, would have prepared the reader for much of
his philosophy. Throughout the book he speaks plain Prig,—a development
that might be foreseen in one who “when he came to be breeched, laid
aside all juvenile Sports”. His playfellows think him “a dull heavy
little Fellow”, he is “a very poor Hand at Marbles, Trap Ball or
Cricket, and little attentive to Play”; when other boys are engaged in
strife, he retires into a corner with some little Book.

No doubt he is a very proper person to record those juvenile virtues
and foibles that might escape a natural child,—to discern the “Thought,
Prudence and admirable Needlecraft” of Miss Betsey Allgood, to speculate
upon the literary ancestry of Master Francis Bacon, or to deprecate the
failings of that “genteel Child,” Miss Fiddle-Faddle, who “at seven Years
of Age, could spend a whole Forenoon at her Glass, and devote an Hour to
pitching upon the proper Part of her Face to stick that Patch on”. This
“little Author” is, in fact, a reincarnation of the Baby Spectator.

There is a year or two between these “Lives” and the first book of
Lilliputian “Letters”. No children’s novel followed Richardson so closely
as to adopt the letter form; but Locke had expressly advised that
children should write letters “wherein they should not be put upon any
Strains of Wit or Compliment, but taught to express their own plain easy
Sense”, and had further recommended that when they were perfect in this,
they might, “to raise their Thoughts”, have Voiture’s letters set before
them as models.[64]

The Lilliputian editor, loth to await the child’s readiness for Voiture,
adapted Locke in his own fashion, and devised new models for the Nursery,
which should admit the usual “Characters” and “Reflections” of the
miscellanies, and at the same time give a suggestion of reality to formal

However full these letters might be of grown-up sentiment, their very
directions and signatures gave proof (convincing to a child) of the
editor’s good faith.

_The Letters between Master Tommy and Miss Nancy Goodwill_, published
by Carnan and Newbery in 1770, was revised in 1786 with “the Parts not
altogether properly adapted to the Improvement and Entertainment of
little Masters and Misses expunged”.[65] What remains, however, shows no
change in style or substance; the Lilliputian features are intact. As
the editor observed: “The epistolatory Style here adopted is that which
little Masters and Misses should use in their Correspondence with each
other” (not that which they naturally would fall into) and it is designed
“to regulate their Judgments, to give them an early Taste for true
Politeness and inspire them with a Love of Virtue”.

The “Holiday Amusements” described in the letters seem to be “regulated”
on the same plan (the editor had obviously forgotten his own); and it is
something of a relief to find Master Tommy (whose relationship to the
Juvenile Biographer is close) warning his sister and her schoolfellows
against the cult of nursery bluestockings.[66] He hopes they are “not
going to turn Philosophers”; if they are, he will put them in mind of
their needles, their pins and their thread papers. “Leave these Subjects”
advises this lordly midget, “to us Boys (I was going to say Men) and we
may perhaps now and then condescend to give you some short Lectures upon
those Matters”.

Miss Nancy, schooled in the sisterly virtues, responds with Persian
stories, references to Mr. Addison, quotations from Pope, and (to clear
herself of any suspicion of the bluestocking heresy) a present of worked
ruffles. Upon this, he, with restored confidence, imparts an allegorical
dream, an instructive story and a “Dissertation on the Value of Time”
which closes on this characteristic note:

“But of all the Diversions of Life, there is none so proper to fill up
its empty Spaces as the reading useful and entertaining Authors. For this
Reason, my dear Nancy, you will receive by the next Coach, Mr. Newbery’s
_Circle of the Sciences_, and such other of his Books as I apprehend
could anyway contribute to your Instruction and Amusement.”

There is one letter, and one only, in which Master Tommy forgets his
Philosophy and lets the Child in him escape:

“O, my dear Nancy, how shall I tell you that my sweet Kite which boasted
of the two finest glass Eyes perhaps ever seen, which was so crowded with
Stars and which cost me such immense Labour, is lost.”

The revised edition was doubtless an attempt to keep pace with the
rival firm of John Marshall; for between the two issues (about 1777)
they had printed a new collection under the title of _Juvenile
Correspondence_,[67] which in some ways was better adapted to Locke’s
original plan, as well as to the theories of Rousseau.

The very fact that these letters are “suited to Children from four to
above ten Years of Age”, and that their aim is to encourage “a natural
Way of Writing”, implies a change in the general view of education;
yet it would be rash to assume that the writer had more than a passing
acquaintance with Rousseau, or that she (this writer is almost certainly
a woman) drew any clear distinction between childhood and youth. The
whole design of _Juvenile Correspondence_ is Lilliputian; its aim is
expressed almost in the exact phrase of the Royal Society, and its
origin (apart from the Goodwill “Letters”) can be traced to a remark of
Pope’s (quoted in the book) that he “should have Pleasure in reading the
Thoughts of an Infant, could it commit them to Writing as they arose in
its little Mind”.

Moreover the children who write the letters, instead of developing on
Rousseau’s lines, become more Lilliputian with each year of growth.[68]
All the natural touches are in the letters of the younger ones; from
five to seven, they would pass for living children. Indeed, the first
letter “from Miss Goodchild, a little more than seven Years of Age to her
Brother nearly five” suggests that the next generation of Lilliputians
will refuse to grow up so soon:

“Would you think it? I am sitting in a little Room full of Books, with a
Desk for Reading and my Papers round me, as if I were a Woman! _But I am
not so silly as to forget that I am but a little Girl_,

                          and, my dear Brother,

                                      Your loving Sister, JANE GOODCHILD.”

This is the first sign of revolution. The puppets are still content to
play their parts, but they refuse to believe in them. Instead, they
begin to assert their own “Gothick Mythology”, and are no longer so
“subservient to the Rules of Reason” as to despise the name of Fairies.

Miss Goodchild “could talk all day of the Play” (Mr. Garrick’s “Fairy
Tale” from Shakespeare).[69] She actually quotes the song beginning:
“Come follow, follow me, ye fairy Elves that be” from an Entertainment
“full of Fairies”, and confesses that she and Jenny were ready to jump up
and join in the chorus, singing:

    “Hand in Hand we’ll dance around
    For this Place is Fairy Ground.”

But the book is full of contradictions; nothing in it bears out the
promise of those early letters. Master Gentle, at the age of seven,
is delivered into the hands of Mr. Birch who, as his name forebodes,
believes neither in Reasoning nor mild Discipline; and at ten, Mr.
Birch’s pupils become little monsters of virtue and precocity. They are
Lilliputians of a larger growth, but they certainly are not boys. This
book, moreover, lacks the Newbery touch of comedy. Its humour is mostly
unconscious, as in the account of a father who asks permission to read
his son’s letters, where the boy confides to a friend that he feels “like
the Swain in Shenstone: ‘_fearful, but not averse_’”.

Among the numberless books for children printed between 1780 and 1810,
there were three which, although they discarded the nursery badge
of “Flowery and Gilt”, and had little in common with the Newbery
miscellanies, followed Lilliputian precedent in form and title.

These were the _Juvenile Tatler_ (1783), the _Fairy Spectator_ (1789) and
the _Juvenile Spectator_ (1810).[70] The first two are among the earliest
books that show the influence of Marmontel and Madame de Beaumont; they
therefore are no true Lilliputians: the third mimics Addison’s method
with absolute fidelity, and sparkles with the satirical spirit of its
original; yet this too breaks loose from Lilliputian convention; it has
almost enough sanity and wit to be called a nursery Jane Austen.

These three will be seen to better advantage with others of their kind.

A strong revival of romance in children’s books would have driven out the
Lilliputians at the close of the eighteenth century; but the progress
of Theory prevented it, and produced, with a fresh crop of moral tales,
innumerable reprints.

Canning’s amusing paper in the _Eton Microcosm_ (June 11, 1787),[71] did
more than mark the vogue of those tiny “16 mo’s” at Mr. Newbery’s and
“the Bouncing B, Shoe Lane”: it was also a tempting advertisement; and in
the early nineteenth century small Londoners who could not rise to the
splendours of “twopence Gilt” might buy their own New Year and Easter
Gifts at Catnach’s or the “Toy and Marble Warehouse” in Seven Dials,
for a half-penny, or even (with covers of rough blue sugar-paper) for a

In 1779 Saint, the north-country Newbery, had printed a Newcastle edition
of _Tommy Trip_, and between 1790 and 1812, the entire Lilliputian
library was revived in the York chap-books by Wilson and Spence. Other
provincial booksellers, following these, began to improve their stocks
of school-books and battledores with pirated “Newberys”; and some, like
Rusher of Banbury, retouched old rhymes and tales with local colour. It
was Rusher who restored the tradition of _Giles Gingerbread_ with the
_History of a Banbury Cake_;[73] and in the childhood of Queen Victoria,
his little shop was still famous for toy-books.



    Locke and Rousseau—A New Conception of Childhood—Rousseau’s
    Theory of Education—Parent and Tutor, Artificial Experiences,
    Books, Handicrafts, Attitude to Nature and Humanity—The
    Infallible Parent—Marmontel’s _Contes Moraux_—Berquin’s _L’Ami
    des Enfans_—_The Looking Glass for the Mind_—Madame d’Epinay’s
    _Conversations d’Emilie_—Madame de Genlis and her Books—French
    Lilliputians: _Le Petit Grandison_ and _Le Petit La Bruyère_.

Rousseau, even when he repeated Locke’s precepts, caught the ear of a
wider public because he appealed not so much to reason as to feeling, and
instead of commending his doctrines by argument, charged them with warmth
and eloquence.

Locke had been before him in exposing the shams and pedantry of
schoolmasters, as in striving for a more natural method of education;
but he carried out his task in a quiet professional way, regarding the
child as a patient in need of a new regimen, but never setting him on a

It was Rousseau’s inspiration to take the beauty and promise of childhood
for his text, to make the child stand forth as the hope of the race, the
centre of all its aspirations, the proof of its powers.[74] Thus his
philosophy acquired the dignity of a new faith; and yet the child lost
nothing of his personal and human interest, for in Rousseau’s scheme, he
was the very core of a new conception of family life. There could be no
better setting for a natural education than the family, no simpler unit
of fellowship; and Rousseau drew persuasive pictures of the child at
successive stages of his growth,—pictures which writers of moral tales
reproduced with modifications of their own, and a greater or less amount
of theory.

For there was this great difference between Locke and Rousseau, in their
effect on children’s books: that Locke, beyond encouraging Fables, did
no more than furnish a toy library with his _Thoughts_; whereas Rousseau
taught two generations of writers to substitute living examples for

In making Emile an orphan, Rousseau was guarding against interference
with his experiment; it is no part of his doctrine that a child should be
brought up by any but his parents, unless they are unable or unwilling to
do their duty. Then, indeed, a Tutor must be found, though he will never
be required, after the manner of tutors, to instruct. A child needs no
other teacher than Experience, no schoolroom but the open country which
is also his playground; all that the tutor need do is to enter into
his interests and amusements as an equal, and watch over him while he
educates himself. This marks a revolutionary change in the attitude of
the Philosopher to the Child. Locke’s theory of habit, his practice of
reasoning with children, have no place in the new scheme. Rousseau would
as soon have a child be five feet in height as to have judgment at the
age of ten. Children, he declares, are incapable of reason, Nature meant
them to be children before they become men. To forget this is to force a
fruit that has neither ripeness nor savour, to produce old infants and

Rousseau hits hard and straight at the pedantic mania for instruction
that filled the early miscellanies with Geography, Chronology and other
studies “remote from man and especially from the child”. Emile must never
be allowed to cheat himself with words. He shall learn nothing by heart,
not even Fables; for these he is sure to misinterpret. And how is a child
to grow up with any respect for truth, if his first book teach him that
_Foxes speak and speak the same language as Ravens_?

With Words and Fables, Rousseau dismisses all the inventions of primitive
imagination that find their natural place in a child’s mind.

At twelve, Emile hardly knows what a book is. He has spent his whole life
in the country, with a tutor whom he regards as a playfellow. In climbing
among rocks and trees and leaping over brooks, he has learnt to measure
himself with his surroundings and has lost all sense of danger. No human
will has ever opposed him, and since it is useless to fight against
circumstance, he submits to necessary evils, and bears pain without

Emile is stronger and more capable than other children; yet conscious of
his dependence on others, of his need of protection. Abstract terms, such
as duty and obligation, mean nothing to him, nor will he practise the
empty forms of courtesy; but he has the basis of all good breeding, being
candid and fearless, but neither arrogant nor self-conscious.

From twelve to fifteen, Emile’s education is equally practical. Curiosity
moves him to experiment and discovery, and thus he learns the simple
truths of science without teaching. Locke’s belief in utility was not
greater than Rousseau’s. The word “useful”, he says, is the key to the
whole situation. Emile is always to test his discoveries by the question
“What is this good for?” and things which do not satisfy this test are
of no account. The tutor still attends the boy like his shadow, never
seeming to influence the course of events; but since Nature cannot be
trusted to adapt herself to his scheme, he now finds it necessary to
contrive artificial experiences which Emile accepts as natural.

Rousseau sees nothing inconsistent in this use of artifice by which the
Child of Nature, though wholly dependent on the will of his tutor, thinks
he is governing himself; yet everything is so planned and so foreseen
that he does nothing of his own choice.

It is here that Rousseau grudgingly admits the need of books; but he
takes care to restrict his Emile to a single book which deals chiefly
with practical affairs. “What is this wonderful Book? is it Aristotle? is
it Pliny? is it Buffon? No, it is _Robinson Crusoe_.”

Here at any rate, Rousseau made no mistake. Had Emile been free to
choose, this is precisely the book he would have chosen, though for less
philosophical reasons; and the very fact that it fits Rousseau’s scheme
of education is a proof that the scheme is sound. Robinson Crusoe, alone
on his island, with neither house nor tools, gradually providing for his
needs; it is Rousseau’s allegory of the triumph of man, and failure of
civilisation. Emile cannot understand this yet, but the book will be a
touchstone for his taste and judgment, and serve him and his tutor as a
text for all their talk on the natural sciences. The boy’s interest is
wholly practical; but it stimulates “the _real_ castle-building of that
happy age when we know no other happiness than necessity and freedom”. Of
free and imaginative castle-building, Rousseau has no notion, but Emile
will know his Robinson Crusoe all the better, if he is allowed to act the

“I would have his head turned by it,” says Rousseau, “and have him always
busy about his Castle, his goats and his plantation.... I would have him
imagine he is Robinson himself.”

It is the reality of drama that appeals to the educator; the hint was not
lost upon writers of children’s books.

And now, since Emile cannot remain always in his island, it is time to
recall him to everyday life. His natural interest in handicrafts will
smooth the transition. The tutor goes with him from shop to shop, that
he may understand the division of labour among men. Thus he learns more
in an hour than from a whole day’s explanation. And lest this should
be only surface knowledge, he must learn some trade (for choice a
carpenter’s) which will guard him against common prejudice, and make him
independent of fortune.

Rousseau keeps the road so clear for his young traveller that he is not
afraid of chance encounters. In these years, Emile is to learn nothing of
the relations of man to man. His heart is not to be touched by suffering
nor his imagination kindled by the “living spectacle of Nature” which
Rousseau himself paints in such glowing colours. Eloquence and poetry
are wasted on a child. Moral and spiritual teaching can safely be left
till his sixteenth year. Up to that point Emile has studied nothing but
the natural world. He has little knowledge, but what he has is real and
complete. Simple surroundings have taught him to be content with what he
has and to despise luxury, which, according to Rousseau, is the secret of
true happiness. His body is strong and active, his mind unprejudiced; he
has courage, industry, self-control,—all the virtues proper to his age.

Rousseau’s disciples had some excuse for disregarding one of his chief
discoveries: the distinction between childhood and youth. It was
obviously impossible to draw a hard and fast line between the two stages,
and Rousseau would not give an inch to individual difference. Thus his
followers were either forced back upon precedent, or had to trust to
their own experience of children. On the one hand, they clung to the
old encyclopædic methods; on the other, they transferred Rousseau’s
provisions for youth and manhood to an earlier stage. Experience taught
them that a child could be stirred by other motives besides prudence and
self-love, that moral and spiritual influences in early childhood were
not to be ignored, that there were such things as childish imagination
and sympathy.

The greater number of moral tales owe their very existence to Rousseau’s
inconsistency; for although he had exposed the fallacy of maxims and
fables, he found no better substitute than the Example of a perfect
Parent or Tutor—a man without passion or prejudice, detached and
colourless, who, without seeming to guide or correct, should watch the
child’s every movement and on occasion teach Nature herself how to go
about her business.

The first generation of Emile, which proved Rousseau’s theory of
Childhood, disposed, once for all, of the Infallible Parent in real
life. A child might suspect that it was a literary rather than a
practical idea, and the few parents who, after a vigorous course of
self-discipline, felt equal to the part, would find it easier to sustain
by proxy in a moral tale. They decided, at any rate, to ignore Rousseau’s
veto upon books for children under twelve, and writers quickly rose to
the demand for a new sort of Fables, wherein the Child of Nature, walking
in the shadow of the Perfect Parent, acquired a measure of wisdom and
philanthropy beyond his years. Such tales, inspired by the Emile, are a
satirical comment on the writing of books to prove that books are useless.

Marmontel, though he did not write for children, was an admirable guide
for lesser moralists. His vivid character-contrasts, dramatic incidents
and humorous treatment of every-day life taught them that art might not
be thrown away upon a child’s book, if it only served to keep alive
interest and curiosity. The “Good Mother” and “Bad Mother” of the _Contes
Moraux_[75] supplied useful variants of the good and bad child, and the
“School for Fathers” encouraged the writers of little books to venture
satirical comments on the faults of parents.

It is true that Marmontel’s types are less convincing when reduced for
the nursery and coloured by Rousseau. “The School for Fathers” turned out
a uniform pattern of the Infallible Parent, and “The Good Mother”, “_La
femme comme il y en a peu_”, assuming the proportions of her virtues,
cast a monstrous shadow over two generations; yet there were books
that reflected Marmontel’s wise moderation, his sympathy with youthful
follies, all that was implied in the motto of his bon Curé, “_Moins de
prudence et plus de bonté_”.

The Nursery had its Marmontel in Armand Berquin, better known by the name
of his most famous book, _L’Ami des Enfans_,[76] an addition that no man
deserved better then he. Like Perrault, Berquin owed his reputation to
a book that he wrote for children; but times had changed: education had
now become of so much consequence that the writer of children’s books
was regarded as a public benefactor. Perrault the Academician had never
openly acknowledged the _Contes_ of 1697; but in 1784, Berquin’s _L’Ami
des Enfans_ was crowned by the French Academy.

Perhaps it was well for Berquin that by this time fairies were
discredited in France, and Perrault was gone from his old shelf, so
that no child could choose between them. As it was, children of all
sizes and conditions, with and without tutors, but all equally ignorant
of magic, read Berquin’s stories and read them again. Something of his
own sweetness and humour got into his book; they felt that he loved and
understood them, and those who lived near him used to crowd round him,
eager for a word or a handshake, whenever he came out of his house.

Berquin’s book owes something to Weisse’s _Der Kinderfreund_, from which
he took some of the stories, as well as to the writings of Campe and
Salzmann; but no German ever pointed a moral with such playful grace.

There is hardly a point in Rousseau’s argument that Berquin does not
illustrate; but he does it in a perfectly natural way, drawing the events
out of simple situations, and showing delightful glimpses of childish

Marmontel’s “Bad Mother”, with her blind and cruel preference for one of
her two children, is easily recognised in the story of “_Philippine et
Maximin_”. His device of moral contrast appears in every variation of
Rousseau’s theme.

These are mostly little studies in black and white: Industry opposed to
Idleness in “The Two Apple Trees”; a rational education preferred to
riches in the story of Narcisse and Hippolyte; the character-contrast
grafted on fable in a similar study of two dogs.

Emile’s gentle consciousness of his dependence on others (one of his
more amiable traits) is shown in the docility of Prosper, who, by
accepting the gardener’s advice, finds in due season ripe strawberries
of an exquisite flavour hanging from his plants. “Ah, had I only planted
some in my garden,” cries the brother who jeered at him. Whereupon the
generous one replies: “You can eat them as if they were your own.”

M. Sage, who might be Emile’s tutor, believes that if he can make his boy
Philippe content with what he has, instead of longing for things which he
cannot get, he will do more for his happiness than by leaving him untold

When the boy envies a rich man’s garden, his father says that he himself
possesses a finer one. Taking Philippe by the hand, he leads him to the
top of a hill that overlooks the open country. “Shall we soon come to
our garden, papa?” the boy asks eagerly. “We are already there!” answers
M. Sage.

Rousseau himself was not a greater lover of gardens than Berquin.
Gardening is the theme of half his stories: “_Le rosier à cent feuilles
et le genêt d’Espagne_”; “_Les cerises_”; “_Les tulipes_”; “_Les fraises
et les grosseilles_”; “_Les deux pommiers_”; the greater number deal with
country life and have their setting in the family.

The tale of the farmer who brings a jar of candied fruits to his
landlord’s children, is an eloquent sermon against ill-breeding and

This is a sequence of moral contrasts. First, the insolent treatment of
the farmer by the two boys is set against their little sister’s courtesy,
then contrasted with the simple friendliness of their father; and the
corresponding scene of their entertainment at the farm is drawn with the
same delicate point. The two boys are compared with the farmer’s sons,
more capable, even more accomplished than themselves; and stung to shame
by the generosity and natural courtesy of their host.

Farming, according to Rousseau, is the most honourable of industries.
After farmers he places blacksmiths and carpenters. Berquin brings his
children into a natural contact with men of various crafts, the farmer,
the blacksmith, the mason. They watch the building of a house and
learn the need for division of labour. He can dispense with Rousseau’s
artifice. He never hampers himself with theory, but allows Emile’s
virtues to appear in common adventures with men and birds and animals.

Clementine, who loads the little peasant girl with useless gifts, learns,
in a dialogue with her mother, to serve the real needs of her protegée;
the dentist’s visit to Laurette and Marcellin is a test of courage; “_Le
menteur corrigé par lui-même_” becomes a champion of truth.

Foolish wishes and false judgments are corrected according to Rousseau’s
plan. Little Fleuri, who, as each new season arrives, would have it last
for ever, is made to set down his fickle desires on his father’s tablets,
and, faced in Autumn with his Winter, Spring and Summer wishes, decides
that all the seasons of the year are good. Armand would cut away the
brambles that take toll of the sheep’s wool, but in the nesting season,
discovers how the wool is used.

Berquin cannot bring himself to judge the things that are merely
beautiful by Rousseau’s standard of utility. Lucette, when she finds gay
flowers in a place where her father planted those “_tristes oignons_”,
learns with astonishment that these were tulip-roots; and Berquin allows
her to rejoice where a rigid Rousseauist would have compared the uses of
flowers and vegetables.

“The time of faults is the time for fables,” said Rousseau; but he put
it late, when Emile was no longer a child. Berquin knows what happens in
nurseries: that Josephine will forget to feed her canary, that Firmin
and Julie will eat forbidden cherries, that Ferdinand, all frankness and
generosity, if he cannot control his temper, will be a danger to his
friends, and Camille if they give her the chance, will tyrannise over the
whole family.

The remedies are mostly found in the natural consequences of these
things; but Berquin brushes aside Rousseau’s strict law of necessity
with a light mischievous touch; nor does he ever sanction the plan of
governing a child by letting him suppose he is the master.

“The Children who wanted to govern themselves”, having tried it, do not
wish to repeat the experiment; and Camille is completely reduced by the
officer who advises her Mother to give her _a uniform and a pair of
moustaches_, in which she can more appropriately indulge her fancy for
ordering people about.

These children of Berquin’s are less hard and self-reliant than Emile.
Even the good ones are not unnatural. There is little Alexis on a showery
day in June, running first down to the garden to look at the sky, and
then back, three steps at a time, to the barometer—only to find that
the two are in league against him; and the eight-years-old Marthonie,
a delicious picture in her white linen dress, a pair of morocco shoes
on her “dear little feet”, and her hair, dark as ebony, hanging in
loose curls on her shoulders; Marthonie, who insisted on being dressed
for a picnic in a frock of the prettiest apple-green taffetas, with
rose-coloured ribbons and shoes—and came home hatless and draggled, a
tearful Cinderella with one shoe left in the mud. The Mother who met her
thus and only said, “Would you like me to have another silk frock made up
for you to-morrow?” owes her wisdom to Rousseau, but her playful irony to
Berquin and Marmontel.

Berquin’s parents are nearly infallible, but he does not give them every
point in an argument. In the affair of Charlotte and the watch, for
example, it is not always M. de Fonrose who scores.

Charlotte invents a dozen reasons for wanting a watch, and her inexorable
parent disposes of them all, till she is forced back on Rousseau’s final
position. A watch must needs be a _useful_ possession, since her Papa,
philosopher as he is, cannot do without it. This, obviously, is a point
to Charlotte. If she wants the thing for its _usefulness_, it is hers.
The sudden capitulation is too much for Charlotte. She suspects her Papa
of badinage. Not at all; he is perfectly serious. She will find the watch
hanging from the tapestry by the side of his bed.

    _Charlotte_: What! that ancient thing, that King Dagobert
    perhaps used for a pot to feed his dogs?

    _M. de Fonrose_: It is a very good one, I assure you. They were
    all made like that in your grandfather’s time. I regard it as
    an heirloom. But in giving it to you, I shall not let it go
    out of the family, nor shall I lose sight of it when I see you
    wearing it.

    _Charlotte_: But what will other people say, who are not my
    grandpapa’s descendants?

Few English children could buy the first translation of Berquin, in
twenty-four volumes. A selection, including many little dramas for three
or four persons, appeared later under the title of _The Children’s
Friend_; but the true English version was the admirable _Looking Glass
for the Mind_[77] adapted by Mr. Cooper for E. Newbery and illustrated
by John Bewick’s inimitable cuts. Alexis transfers his best grace to
Bewick’s “little Anthony”, standing a-tiptoe on a chair to read the
barometer; Caroline walks as proudly as Marthonie in her finery; and the
four little pupils of Mademoiselle Boulon are not less French for their
English names.

It is odd, considering Rousseau’s attitude to the education of girls
(for in his account of Sophie he reverses the whole method of Emile’s
training) that the trilogy of educational romance, begun with Emile,
should have been completed by two women.

Madame d’Epinay, Rousseau’s friend and benefactress, published her
_Conversations d’Emilie_[78] at his request, and Madame de Genlis, in
_Adèle et Théodore_,[79] worked out her own scheme of practical education
on his principles.

Of the two, Madame d’Epinay is more faithful to Rousseau, and so great
was the interest aroused by the _Emile_, that she was awarded the French
Academy prize for “a work of the greatest benefit to humanity”.

She herself declared that her book contained “neither a plan of
education, nor any connection in the ideas”; yet it is plain that Emilie
follows Emile like an obedient younger sister.

An age that believed in freedom and equality could not long stand by
the privilege of sex, and Emilie, although she suffers some of the
restrictions imposed on Sophie, shares the natural education of Emile,
and is taught to practise most of his virtues. She gains her knowledge,
as he does, from experience; Nature is the wise Mistress who refuses
her request for more lessons, and had Emilie’s mother followed her own
inclination, it is likely that the little girl at ten years old “Would
not yet have known how to read.”

As it is, she is allowed to spend ten years (for Emile’s twelve) in
jumping and running, and her enlightened Parent (the counterpart of
Emile’s guardian) believes that the time has not been wasted. Not
that Emilie is ever allowed to forget Rousseau’s Salic Law concerning
obedience and restraint. She is sternly snubbed for romping with her
brothers, and after a disastrous adventure with a beautiful green ladder,
admonished that “the modesty of her sex requires a decorum which should
restrain the giddiness and warmth even of childhood”. This sends her back
to her doll, the care of which has so far exercised her ingenuity that
her mother “will not oppose a continuation of it for some time to come”.
And to Sophie’s sewing and embroidery, Emilie adds a new amusement: that
of passing these instructive conversations on to her doll.

Thus even “moments of relaxation” are to be employed by a vigilant mother
in order to form the understanding of her child. There is no escape for
little Emilie, she must be educated every minute of the day. Her play is
always under supervision, always liable to interference and criticism.
Her mother, usually her sole companion, is present at all interviews
between Emilie and other human creatures.

The book is, in one sense, a simplified _Emile_, intended for children
as well as parents; but Madame d’Epinay has not a vestige of Berquin’s
humour to help her along the “paths of pleasure and amusement”. These
repeated portraits of Emilie and her mother look dull indeed beside
Berquin’s dainty groups, and her insistent doctrine almost hides the one
beauty of the book: the character of Emilie.

There is no merit in Madame d’Epinay’s fancy portrait of herself as the
Perfect Parent, but Emilie is lifelike, and holds out for a number of
years in her stronghold of childhood. It is only on the eve of her tenth
birthday that she remarks resignedly, “To-morrow will be an important
day. When I rise, _I shall no longer be a child_”.

The tyranny of reason had, in fact, begun much sooner, when Emilie,
curious about her own small part in the Universe, learnt that _in time_
she would become a Reasonable Being.

    _Emilie_: But what am I now, being but a child?

    _Mother_: How! You are _five years old_ and have not yet
    reflected on what you are! Endeavour to find out yourself.

    _Emilie_: I cannot think of anything!

This is a priceless opportunity to impress the lesson of dependence,—to
prove that it is only by mildness, docility and attention that she can
hope for a continuation of help and protection.

Punishment, says the Maternal Governess, is proper only for intractable
and servile dispositions; but she is willing, before Rousseau, to correct
faults by means of Fables.

This is how she deals with her pupil after a courageous burst of

    _Mother_: Take a book from that shelf: that which you see at
    the end of the second lowest shelf.

    _Emilie_: Is it this, Mamma?

    _Mother_: Yes, bring it to me.

    _Emilie_: Mamma, it is Moral Tales.

    _Mother_: So much the better; it will amuse us.

    _Emilie_: Which shall I read?

    _Mother_: The first.

    _Emilie_: Oh! Mamma.

    _Mother_: What now?

    _Emilie_: It is—Let us read the second. Mamma.

    _Mother_: Why not the first?

    _Emilie_: Mamma, it is “The Naughty Girl”!

    _Mother_: Well, we shall see if it bring to our recollection
    any of our acquaintance.

    _Emilie_: Must I read it aloud?

    _Mother_: Without doubt; and pronounce distinctly.

(The very snap of the consonants can be heard.)

Madame d’Epinay was too true a disciple of Rousseau to follow him
slavishly. Not only did she ignore his strictures upon reading, through
the fear of being singular, and still more that of making an unfortunate
experiment, but she was even ready to tolerate myths for the sake of
morality, and to compare them with modern instances; on the other hand,
it must be confessed that she only once talked of fairies, and regretted
it afterwards.

Emilie herself has a child’s love of fairies; but she is made to reason
about them:

“Mamma, you will make me umpire between you and the fairies,” says the
intelligent little person, making the most of her dull game; and she
obediently works it out against herself: “They were, perhaps, two fairies
and a genii I met this morning. Well, no matter, Heaven bless them, I
say, you are the fairy Luminous and have _disenchanted me_!”

The Mother never shrinks from this grave responsibility. Berquin, though
he made war upon ghosts, was wise enough to let the fairies alone. At
least he could laugh like one of them. But Madame d’Epinay, in her first
Conversation with Emilie, finds it hard to be amused, and in the twelfth,
the little girl declares: “_In my whole life I never saw you play at

This, indeed, is a mother that sends Love himself to school:

    _Emilie_: Mamma! Mamma! Let me come and kiss you.

    _Mamma_: Most willingly; but you will tell me upon what account!

Madame de Genlis’s _Adèle et Théodore_, published in the same year
as _Emilie_, gives her interpretation of Rousseau in the form of
correspondence with a mother who desires to be enlightened, but as yet
clings to the ordinary customs of Society:

“You prevent your children till the age of thirteen from reading
Telemachus, Fontaine’s Fables and all such books, yet you would inspire
them with a taste for reading! What books would you give them instead
of those I have mentioned? Are they only to read the Arabian Nights and
Fairy Tales till they are thirteen?”

The answer gives the author’s convictions about children’s books:

“I neither give my children Fairy Tales to read nor Arabian Nights; not
even Madame d’Aulnoy’s Fables, which were composed for this purpose.
_There is scarcely one of them which has a moral tendency._”

To provide works “proper for infancy” she wrote _Les Veillées du
Château_,[80] tales which carry Rousseau’s theories along a facile stream
of conversation and incident. Adèle, until she is seven, is allowed to
read no other books. “I shall then”, says Madame de Genlis, “give her the
Conversations of Emilie, a book you have often heard me praise, and this
will employ her till she is eight.”

The apparent generosity to her rival, however, did not prevent the
writer of _Adèle et Théodore_ from attributing the success of _Emilie_ to
the good will of the Encyclopædists. “Madame d’Epinay was a philosopher,”
she remarks, “and took good care not to talk of religion to her Emilie.”

It is certainly true that Madame de Genlis had many qualifications for
her task which Madame d’Epinay lacked; and when for a moment she allows
herself to forget her theories, there are glimpses of autobiography in
her books. Her own life, in fact, was the most interesting of her tales,
and the rest are interesting chiefly for reflections of it.

No child could have reproached Madame de Genlis with never playing at
anything. She had an extraordinary childhood, and her early years in
the quiet Château of St. Aubin were filled with unusual interests.[81]
At eight years old she dictated little romances and comedies to her
governess, and amused herself by playing schoolmistress to some
Burgundian peasant children who came to cut rushes under her window; at
eleven she was the chief attraction of her mother’s theatrical fêtes. It
was characteristic of the society of the day to seek refuge in private
theatres from political and social realities; most owners of country
houses had their own companies composed of friends and neighbours, and
thus Félicie, before her twelfth year, had mixed freely with gentlefolk
and villagers, and had shown the aptitude for teaching and acting which
marked her whole career. Her dramatic talent, indeed, might be said
to cover all her other activities, for with her, teaching was little
more than a favourite and particularly successful rôle. She was active,
curious and enterprising as any child; before her marriage she was
an accomplished harpist and fluent writer; afterwards she acquired a
knowledge of literature, anatomy, music and flower-painting; but there
were other occupations which fitted her even better to be the exponent of
Rousseau’s theories. Writing in the _Memoirs_ of her early married life,
“I endeavoured”, she says, “to gain some insight into field-labour an
gardening. I went to see the cider made. I went to watch all the workmen
in the village at work, the carpenter, the weaver, the basket maker”.

Rousseau thought her the most natural and cheerful girl he had ever met.
Their friendship was short, but she never wavered in her loyalty to his
teaching, and could say at the age of seventy, “What I pride myself on,
is knowing twenty trades, by all of which I could earn my bread.”

In 1777, Madame de Genlis was made governess to the daughters of the
Duchess of Chartres, for whom, with her own children, she established a
school at the Convent of Belle Chasse. Her success was so great that,
in 1782, the Duke of Orleans took the unusual step of appointing her as
“governor” to his three sons. The result fully justified his courage and
silenced the critics who ridiculed this new method of using revolutionary
theory to educate princes.

The Duke purchased a country estate at St. Leu, and here the boys made
experiments in chemistry, studied botany, practised gardening, carpentry,
and other forms of handwork. But Madame de Genlis did more than play
the part of Rousseau with three Emiles. She handed on to her pupils the
delights of her own childhood. These boys could laugh at Emile marooned
in his island. They played out a dozen different Voyages in the park of
St. Leu; and had a theatre of their own in which they acted moral plays
from the _Théâtre d’Education_.[82]

Madame de Genlis had long ago added authorship to her list of trades and
had written stories for the children of Belle Chasse. It was easy enough
to invent new ones for St. Leu. “There is no great wisdom required in the
composition,” she declared, “but only Nature and common sense.”

Doubtless her books deserved Madame Guizot’s criticism, “_toujours bien
et jamais mieux_”. She is discursive, even garrulous, and often loses
the thread of the story in moral dialogues; but there are tales in the
_Veillées du Château_ that suggest her own enjoyment of the “delicious
life” with her children; and if none of them betray her love of mischief
and adventure, it is but a fresh proof that she was acting a part, that
she could not move freely under the cloak of the Infallible Parent. For
in actual life she could take either side in a moral contrast, bear her
part in the maddest pranks, assume every virtue of a heroine and hide
with complete success a thousand faults.

Her books, after all, were simply properties reserved for her parts of
Moralist and Schoolmistress. She dramatised the theories of Rousseau, and
although her wonderful energy hardly atoned for her lack of depth and
soundness, she left a rich legacy of device and suggestion to those who
could use it better.

Rousseau’s affinity to Locke on the side of theory, and to Richardson
in sentiment may account for some common features of French and English
tales, but it does not explain the writing of “Lilliputian” books by two
such authors as Berquin and Madame de Genlis.

There is, of course, no great difference between “writing down”
Rousseau’s doctrine for children, and making miniature versions of
Richardson and La Bruyère; but Berquin’s humour should have saved him
from _Le Petit Grandison_,[83] and Madame de Genlis might have reflected
on the undramatic qualities of _Le Petit La Bruyère_.[84] Berquin’s
Lilliputian hero reveals himself in letters to his mother as a perfect
miniature of Sir Charles Grandison, not less insufferable for his youth;
and the little _La Bruyère_ is made up of conventional homilies: “Of
Reading, Study and Application”; “Of Personal Merit”; “Of the Heart”
(introduced by a quotation from Marmontel); “Of Insipidity” (perhaps
evoked by the other platitudes).

It was Rousseau himself who saw that the subject of education was
entirely new, even after Locke’s treatise, and would be new after his
own. The closest of his followers overlooked his chief discovery.



    Effects of Rousseau’s teaching in England—Henry Brooke’s _Fool
    of Quality_, the English _Emile_—Thomas Day: his connection
    with the Edgeworths—_Sandford and Merton_—_Little Jack_—Theory
    and Romance: Philip Quarll as a Rousseauist—_The New Robinson
    Crusoe_—Madame d’Epinay and Mary Wollstonecraft: _The Original
    Stories_—Blake’s illustrations—Traces of Marmontel and Madame
    le Prince de Beaumont in _The Juvenile Tatler_ and _The Fairy

In England, Rousseau’s teaching had more effect on the actual life of the
family than on books. Children, no longer cramped by the old pedantries,
began to show unexpected powers of action and self-control, and parents,
relieved of their harsher duties, chose to make friends rather than
philosophers of their children.

It was only in books that theorists could represent this genuine progress
by the make-believe of impossible children and perfect parents. Most
writers of children’s books were theorists of one sort or another, and
now that they had begun to draw from life, they tried to make it fit
their theories. Thus the new books were hardly less didactic than the old.

Some reflect Johnson’s hostility to Rousseau, others support the new
ideas with definite religious teaching, and many that present the Child
of Nature as an existing type, endow him with the precocious wisdom of
a Lilliputian. There is hardly a book among them, even among the many
adaptations of French stories, in which the setting and characters are
not plainly English.

The most consistent of all Rousseauists was Thomas Day,[85] the author
of _Sandford and Merton_,[86] and he owed the success of his book at
least as much to his own observations and experiments, as to Rousseau.

Much of its interest, moreover, can be traced to the example of an
English novelist; for in choosing some pieces for children from Henry
Brooke’s _Fool of Quality_, Mr. Day had been so struck by its simple and
vivid style as to regret that Brooke himself had not written books for
children; and it is clear that, while the theory of _Sandford and Merton_
came direct from Rousseau, many dramatic situations, which are the life
of the story, were suggested by _The Fool of Quality_.[87]

This, indeed, was a book after Rousseau’s own heart. The hero, Henry
Earl of Moreland, is an English Emile quickened out of knowledge by more
natural and livelier adventures. Brought up by a foster-mother among
village children, he stands for the virtues of a natural education,
against a brother bred at home in the luxurious fashion of the time. The
scene of his first visit (at five years old) to his parents, is a satire
on Society, and the farcical turn of his adventures brings the romance of
theory into touch with the novel of life and humour. This little Harry
is the most natural child of fiction; like Emile at a later stage, he
knows nothing of the respect due to people of rank, and is quite unmoved
by his unusual surroundings; but as yet he has no philosophy; he values
things as children do, for what they mean to him. A laced hat is useless
as a head-covering, but an effective missile for playing ducks and drakes
among the wine-glasses; when he gets astride a Spanish pointer and rides
him among the company, he sees no reason to dismount because the dog,
growing outrageous, rushes into a group of little masters and misses and
overthrows them like ninepins; and when he has crowned the adventure by
throwing down a fat elderly lady and three men, he arises and strolls
leisurely about the room “with as unconcerned an aspect as if nothing
had happened amiss, and as though he had neither art nor part in this
frightful discomfiture”.

Emile, a much older boy, at his dinner party, received a hint from his
mentor, and for the rest of the meal “philosophised all alone in his
corner” about luxury, superior all to the grown-up guests. The little
Harry, merely unhappy at having to hold his knife and fork “just so” and
say so many “my lords and my ladies”, very naturally cries, “I wish I was
with my mammy in the kitchen.” Neither then nor at any other time does he
seem conscious of superior wisdom; but Theory hangs upon the foolishness
of his mother. An uncle, whimsical rather than didactic, but none the
less a moralist, fills the place of Rousseau’s tutor, and later, when the
boy appears in clothes “trimmed like those of your beau insects vulgarly
called butterflies,” this humorist so impresses him with the comparison
of that “good and clever boy called Hercules” who was given a poisoned
coat to wear, that Harry rips and rends the lacings of his suit and runs
down to obey a summons “with half the trimmings hanging in fritters and
tatters about him.”

Where Emile was controlled and self-centred, Harry is all impulse and
warmth of heart. He fights like a little tiger to avenge his brother
or to punish some young scamp, and cares little for the opinion of his
fellows; yet he shows the greatest tenderness to animals or persons in
distress. His mother, seeking proof of his wits and finding him ready to
give away all his clothes except his shirt, decides that “there is but
the thickness of a bit of linen between this child and a downright fool”,
and so leaves him to his more discerning father.

At times, the author, preoccupied with social and political ideals,
so neglects the story that even his lively humour can scarce restore
it; yet he can forget Rousseau’s theories in scenes that he invents to
illustrate them; nor does he ever accept a theory without proof. To the
philosopher’s contention “that self-love is the motive to all human
actions”, Brooke answers in the words of the estimable Mr. Meekly,
“Virtue forbid”; and his own philosophy is the sounder for a trustworthy
ballast of religion and patriotism.

Among minor digressions are a dialogue about toys, another on ghosts,
and some of the “thousand little fables” by which Harry’s uncle, “with
the most winning and insinuating address, endeavoured to open his mind
and cultivate his morals”. One of these, “The Fable of the Little Silver
Trouts”, has a tenderness that sets it apart from common fables. It reads
like an Irish folk-tale moralised by some good priest.

If Henry Brooke could have passed on his gifts of humour and sympathy
to the writers of children’s books, they would have known better than
to tie life down to theory. As it was, they were mostly obsessed by the
desire to teach, and preferred Mr. Day’s model of a faultless hero to one
like the Fool of Quality, who actually discovered two boys within him,
one “proud, scornful, ostentatious and revengeful”, the other “humble,
gentle, generous, loving and forgiving”.

This English Emile was a moral contrast in himself, an anomaly that might
weaken every “Example” in moral tales.

Thomas Day would have no such compromise between good and evil. Moral
truths were best expressed by distinct types. To combine these in one
person was to confuse the issue. Mr. Day lived, as he wrote, to prove
his theories, and whenever the unknown quantity of human nature thwarted
him, went back to them with unshaken confidence. A great part of his
life was given to works of active benevolence, and his death was no less
consistent than his life; for he died in trying to prove that a young
horse could be tamed by kindness.

Only once he seems to have acted in what must have seemed to him an
irrational way, and that was at the request of the lady (Miss Elizabeth
Sneyd) whom at that time he hoped to make his wife. With his natural
propensity to improve and educate, he had asked her, in preparation for
their future life, to forgo many pleasant and harmless diversions which
seemed to him useless or unreasonable. Miss Sneyd, with proper spirit,
suggested that a French dancing-master might help Mr. Day to overcome
certain faults of deportment which displeased her, and so nice was his
sense of justice, that he actually crossed to France and spent some time
in a hopeless experiment. Nobody could have taught Mr. Day to dance;
perhaps the lady knew it. Such graces as he managed to acquire only
provoked her to say that she liked him better as he was before, and he
retired to console himself with philosophy.

His next venture promised better success. He resolved to educate two
orphan girls upon Rousseau’s plan, so that, in time, one of them might
fill the place he had intended for Miss Sneyd. But Nature again proved
herself too strong for Philosophy. The children quarrelled, refused to
be educated “in Reason’s plain and simple way”, and could not be cured
of shrieking when their guardian frightened them to test their courage.
As they grew up, he was forced to admit another failure; but he clung
to his theories, and oddly enough lost nothing of his belief in the
reasonableness of “female character”. A later pupil of his more than
justified this confidence. Richard Lovell Edgeworth, although he had
been Day’s successful rival in love, was still his friend, and used to
send his little daughter Maria to spend her holidays with him. By that
time Mr. Day had found a lady who could endure his ways, and was settled
in Essex, busy with schemes for the benefit of his poor neighbours.

Maria Edgeworth, fresh from a conventional boarding school, was quick
to appreciate his odd humours and philosophic mind. She obediently
swallowed his doses of tar-water, submitted to the severest tests in
exact reasoning, and under his influence, acquired that intense regard
for truth which stamped all her later writings. Yet it was not through
any theories derived from him or from her father that she became the
greatest writer of Moral Tales, but through her own experience of life
and character; and her work for children must be considered apart from
her Rousseauist principles. Mr. Day, indeed, whose ideal of womanhood was
in some ways little in advance of Rousseau’s, did his best to crush her
first effort (the translation of _Adèle et Théodore_) by expostulating
with her father for encouraging it; but Maria was too much his pupil to
give way to a prejudice based solely on his horror of “female authorship”.

Mr. Day was fully alive to the want of good books for children; not only
did he put his own talents at their service, by contributing to Mr.
Edgeworth’s instructive serial _Harry and Lucy_,[88] but he found the
task so interesting that it grew into an independent volume, three parts
dissertation and experiment, and the fourth a fresh effort to express
life in terms of theory.

Doubtless he found it a relief to work out in a book the experiments
which he had found so disconcerting in practice: to show, as the result
of his system, a super-Fool of Quality,—a farmer’s son, instead of a
nobleman’s,—and to make his foil the spoilt child of rich parents. These
are the two children, Harry Sandford and Tommy Merton, “introduced as the
actors” to give interest and coherence to Mr. Day’s collection of lessons
and stories.

When he says they are “made to speak and behave according to the order
of Nature,” “Nature” must be understood to mean the “natural” result
of Theory; for it is only the Bad Boy who, in his naughtiness, is a
real child of Nature. The Good Boy of the Moralist is a stock figure of
allegory, but the Bad Boy lives; a hundred models will serve for his
portrait. He is the real hero of _Sandford and Merton_, as Satan is of
_Paradise Lost_.

Thus, even in a book, human nature was too much for Mr. Day; and yet his
Good Boy, Harry Sandford, is something more than the good half of the
Fool of Quality. His virtues, although superhuman, are not unlike those
of the youthful Thomas Day; but under the guidance of Mr. Barlow, that
insufferable model of the Perfect Tutor, he exhibits the mature head of
Mr. Day on young shoulders, and so becomes the mouthpiece of Rousseau,
the lay-preacher of Mr. Barlow’s sermons, and the chief instrument of the
Bad Boy’s reformation.

There is a note of English severity in Mr. Day’s reading of Rousseau.
His notion of self-control is stricter than anything in the _Emile_:
“Mr. Barlow says we must only eat when we are hungry and drink when
we are dry”; he is utterly intolerant of wealth: “The rich do nothing
and produce nothing, the poor everything that is really useful”. Mr.
Barlow, Harry Sandford and the amiable Miss Simmons take it in turns
to express Mr. Day’s opinions of the idle and frivolous pastimes of
Society. Mr. Barlow was “an odd kind of man who never went to assemblies
and played upon no kind of instrument,” he was “not fond of cards” and
preferred relating moral histories. Harry Sandford found the theatre
“full of nothing but cheating and dissimulation;” and when the youthful
guests of Tommy’s house-party were preparing for a Ball, “Miss Simmons
alone appeared to consider the approaching _solemnity_ with perfect

Much of this is autobiography. Under the figure of Miss Simmons’s uncle,
Mr. Day, in fact, discloses himself: “a man of sense and benevolence, but
a very great humorist”. It is his humour to look at the world as his poor
boy looks at the rich man’s house:

“To the great surprise of everybody, he neither appeared pleased nor
surprised at anything he saw.”

Many incidents of the story, which, like the fight between Harry and
Master Mash, owe little to Henry Brooke, may be taken as reminiscent of
Mr. Day’s boyhood; for although he has a true instinct for drama, he is
incapable of pure invention.

“The originality of the author” he says “is a point of the least
consequence in the execution of such a work as this”. Harry Sandford
refusing to betray the hare to the huntsman, or at loggerheads with the
“little gentry”, is the Fool of Quality; but when he discusses the World
with Miss Simmons, he is a brother of the philosophic Emile.

Mr. Day borrows many of his instructive details from Rousseau: the
juggler, who taught Emile the use of magnets by means of an artificial
duck, conspires with Mr. Barlow and Harry to teach the uninformed Tommy
Merton; but there are other experiments more practical than Rousseau’s,
which suggest actual experience and the co-operation of Mr. Edgeworth.
These alternate with short tales introduced according to what Mr. Day
calls the “natural order of association”; but their effect is to weaken
the genuine interest of the enveloping story. “The Gentleman and the
Basket Maker”[89] gains nothing by the Good Boy’s elocution; Leonidas
shakes himself free from Mr. Barlow’s patronage.

Yet, with all these digressions, children found matter of interest in
_Sandford and Merton_ for another century. The most didactic parents
could not have controlled the choice of so many nurseries, nor would Mr.
Day accept a grown-up verdict without the children’s assent. “If they are
uninterested in the work”, he wrote in his preface, “the praises of a
hundred reviewers will not console me for my failure”.

The truth is that persons who stand no higher than Mr. Barlow’s knee can
go through the book without seeing much of him.

The simple story of “Little Jack”, no less characteristic of Day,
appeared in _The Children’s Miscellany_: (1787),[90] but may have been
written earlier. The moral is quite explicit; “that it is of little
consequence how a man comes into the world, provided he behaves well and
discharges his duty when he is in it”; but Jack’s life begins at the edge
of experience, when he is suckled by a goat; and later, his duty leads
him into many adventures which, although they appear true, happen in a
romantic setting of foreign countries.

Thus theorists, without acknowledging romance, may use it for their
own purposes. Robinson Crusoe’s island lent enchantment to Emile’s
most practical employments, and Rousseau’s followers chose two wholly
romantic figures to point their arguments against society. The negro,
cut off from his own people, freed from his oppressors, is a striking
and pathetic mark in the midst of his white brothers. He now becomes a
type of the Natural Man, and a hero of children’s books.[91] The second
witness against social institutions is that first friend of children,
the shipwrecked sailor-man in his island, who still holds them by the
spell of circumstance, even while he repeats the strange jargon of
revolutionary doctrines.

Mr. Day had transcribed, along with extracts from _The Fool of Quality_,
“some part of Robinson Crusoe”, without any serious additions; but Philip
Quarll the Hermit, one of Crusoe’s earliest successors, appeared in _The
Children’s Miscellany_ as a Rousseauist philosopher.

The original chap-book of 1727[92] has no suggestion of theory, but it
points out one vital difference between Philip Quarll and Crusoe. Quarll
actually comes to love his solitude and loses all desire to return to his
own country.

To the theorist, this proved him a forerunner of Rousseau, and the
editor of 1787 could furnish him with the latest version of the creed.
He begins by reflecting (as Rousseau did with _Robinson Crusoe_) on the
edifying spectacle of shipwrecked men, “deprived in an instant of all
the advantage and support which are derived from mutual assistance ...
obliged to call forth all the latent resources of their own minds”; and
then remarks that the story “whether real or fictitious, is admirably
adapted to the illustration of the subject”.

The poetical language of this hermit, so unlike Crusoe’s plain story,
suggests the influence of Saint Pierre, whose descriptions of scenery
were more elaborate but less vigorous than Rousseau’s. “Feathered
Choristers” entertain him “with melodious harmony;” Nature “puts on her
gay enamelled garb and out of her rich wardrobe supplies all vegetables
with new vesture.”

In such phrases, the philosophic hermit exalts Solitude at the expense of

There is much unconscious humour in the account of the hermit’s efforts
to overcome Nature, for although he has some of Crusoe’s practical
ability, he trusts rather to theory. Depressed at the persistent hatred
of a tribe of monkeys, for whom he has dug roots, he meditates on its
cause, and deciding that he must have forfeited their respect “by hiding
the beauty of his fabric under a gaudy disguise”, he discards the
irrational garments which distinguish men from monkeys, and presents in
his own person Rousseau’s Natural Man.

A friendly monkey, “Beau Fidèle”, plays the part of Friday, and the
“surprising tractability and good nature” of this beast, contrasted with
the ingratitude of a shipwrecked sailor, strengthen the general argument.

This is how the Philosopher, after fifteen years in his island,
apostrophises a ship that suddenly appears:

“Unlucky invention! That thou shouldst ever come into men’s thoughts! The
Ark which gave the first notion of a floating habitation, was ordered
for the preservation of man, but its fatal copies daily expose him to
destruction”; and when the sailors fail to take him off, “despite a
sudden impulse to return”, he reflects upon his good fortune in having
escaped the world, and counts his own situation happier than theirs.
There is, of course, no Footprint in the Sand; yet the tale has romantic
features. A child might skip most of the descriptions, but he would
remember the white-bearded hermit and his monkey-servant in their hut
built of growing trees. Crusoe had no such leaf-tapestry on his walls;
and there is a map of Philip Quarll’s island which is a formulary of
romantic truth; for in it may be seen (at A) the place where the Hermit
was cast away, and at B, the place where Mr. Dorrington (who discovered
him) landed; at E, the Hermit’s Lodge, and at K, the lake between the
Rock and the Island.

The new _Philip Quarll_ with all its absurdities was better reading for
Children than _The New Robinson Crusoe_ (Campe’s _Robinson der Jüngere_,
translated into English from the French in 1788).[93] Crusoe’s ship
never carried a heavier cargo than Campe’s tiresome family, who break
up the story with their dull colloquies; but the book is a fresh proof
that these philosophers had to call in the old masters to enforce their
lessons, and could discover no more attractive theme than the old one of
voyages and islands.

The English _Conversations of Emily_ appeared in the same year as _The
Children’s Miscellany_. Four years later, Mary Wollstonecraft, full of
theories for the better education of girls, assumed the mantle of Madame
d’Epinay, or rather placed it on the shoulders of a Representative whom
no touch of human weakness could redeem from the hard grip of Reason:
Mrs. Mason, a monstrous creation of her own.[94] It would be impossible
to paint Mrs. Mason’s portrait. Nothing softer than granite could suggest
her outline. Compared with her, Emily’s Mother is all kindness and
indulgence. Her two charges, Mary and Caroline, are mere wax tablets
whereon she records her impressions of virtue. Their very faults are
placed upon them like labels, for Mrs. Mason to remove. Emily, though she
was her mother’s “friend”, was a real child, pleased and amused by formal
Nature lessons and unimaginative stories, since nothing better might be
had; playing with dolls, “jumping, running about and making a noise”.

Mary, in the _Original Stories_, has to prove that she can “regulate her
appetites”, before Mrs. Mason says: “I called her my friend, and she
deserved the name, _for she was no longer a child_.” Mary and Caroline
have no mother; Mary Wollstonecraft had no confidence in parents. She
called in Mrs. Mason, a sort of moral physician, to make good the
defects of a casual up-bringing. Mrs. Mason, true to the _tradition
d’Epinay_, “never suffered them to be out of her sight”. She exhibited
every excellence that she exhorted them to attain; and that none of
her perfections should escape their notice, she discoursed upon these
at intervals. Her success is inevitable and complete. She conducts her
pupils through carefully selected experiences; she conducts the reader
through the book. She never hesitates or doubts; she never betrays

The Tales were written “to illustrate the Moral”: it is thus that Mrs.
Mason answers “the Ænigma of Creation”. She sees everything, understands
everything, explains everything.

“‘I declare I cannot go to sleep’, said Mary, ‘I am _afraid of Mrs.
Mason’s eyes_’.”

Mrs. Mason conforms and makes everybody else conform to her moral
formulæ: “Do you know the meaning of the word Goodness?” she asks. “I
see you are unwilling to answer. I will tell you. It is, first, to avoid
hurting anything; and then to continue to give as much pleasure as you

Three chapters are given to “the treatment of animals”. The children are
allowed to read Mrs. Trimmer’s _Fabulous Histories_,[95] and to read it
“over again” to a little friend, if they can make her understand that
_birds never talk_.

In the _Original Stories_, pleasure is administered like medicine.
Benevolence is a chief part of Mrs. Mason’s Theory; she is resolutely,
almost sternly benevolent. Joy is never admitted without a dispensation
from Reason. When the children have acted “like rational creatures”, Mrs.
Mason allows them two lines of joy:

“Look, what a fine morning it is. Insects, birds, and animals, are all
enjoying this sweet day.”

Blake snatched the words eagerly for his frontispiece. His
“illustrations” are a touchstone for Mary Wollstonecraft’s imagination.
_He could not draw Mrs. Mason._ In her place he introduces a central
figure of his own, meditative, sweet, and firm; spiritual, even
decorative, as Mrs. Mason never was. Yet he, like the rest, was dominated
by the monstrous original; his Masonic Symbol appears in every picture.
The children are his own; he dresses them to order, but makes haloes of
their little round straw hats.

This author has an effective manner of disposing landscape to correspond
with her sombre or determinedly joyful moods. Blake does not attempt the
moonlight scene that moves Mrs. Mason to discourse upon her gloomy past,
and present resignation. “I am weaned from the world, but not disgusted,”
she observes. Such a state of mind would be unintelligible to Blake. But
he manages to convey something of the formal desolation of the ruined
Mansion-house, to which Mrs. Mason brings the children “to tell them the
history of the last inhabitants”. They cling about her, and one looks
back in a vain hope of escape, for “when they spoke, the sound seemed to
return again, as if unable to penetrate the thick stagnated air. The sun
could not dart its purifying rays through the thick gloom, and the fallen
leaves contributed to choke up the way and render the air more noxious”.
A heavy atmosphere is characteristic of the book; it suggests the German
_Elements of Morality_, which Mary Wollstonecraft translated two years
later. The promise of romance in the settings of Mrs. Mason’s stories is
never fulfilled.

Blake was oppressed by her realistic solution of the mystery of the
unseen harper. He followed the “pleasing sound” in his own way, and
discovered the player for himself: not Mrs. Mason’s explicit and
tangible old man, but a spirit harping under a starry sky.

Neither Thomas Day nor Mary Wollstonecraft could have written a
“Lilliputian” book; and even the author of the _Juvenile Tatler_ and
_Fairy Spectator_, whose titles suggest the old traditions, turns back
only to copy the types of Marmontel, the moral fairy tales of Madame le
Prince de Beaumont.

_The Juvenile Tatler_,[96] by Mrs. Teachwell (Lady Fenn) is a collection
of moral dialogues and dramas: “The Foolish Mother”, “The Prudent
Daughter”, “The Innocent Romp”, and others suggested by Marmontel. But
the characters are wholly English. The Innocent Romp is a feminine
counterpart of the Bad Boy.

The other persons of this drama (real people too) are Mr. Briskly,
a Widower, whom Marmontel would have called “The Foolish Father”;
Mrs. Freeman, his sister, “The Wise Aunt”; Miss Prudence Freeman, her
daughter, “The Good Cousin”.

Lady Fenn’s humour is English, like her characters: she invents amusing
pranks for her heroine, and is original in admitting a girl to the
masculine pastime of mischief.

A very natural dialogue between the Foolish Father and the Wise Aunt
prepares the reader for the entrance of the Romp. Her latest offence
has lost her an eligible suitor. Chasing the housemaid with a rotten
apple, she has just thrown it full in the face of Lord Prim, alighting
from his coach to pay his compliments to her, on her return from school.
Thus announced, she enters, fresh from an excursion into a neighbour’s
garden by way of the wall. Questioned about the visible traces of this
adventure, she confesses that she fell from the top of the wall, and
adds that she would like to fall twenty times if she could be sure she
was not seen, and _to make her cousin Prudence fall too_. “La! Cousin,”
she cries, with seductive enjoyment, “’tis delightful! Just like flying.”
(A cautious foot-note explains: “This was written before the invention of
Air Balloons.”)

When the author has a doubt about the moral influence of her heroine, she
inserts a corrective foot-note.

The Romp, it is disclosed by her Aunt, not content with dressing the cat
in baby-linen to play at a mock-christening, disguised herself as an old
woman, and carried it to Mr. Starchbland, the Curate. Upon this there
are three separate comments: The Foolish Father’s _“A profane trick”_;
The Wise Aunt’s “She thought no further than the surprise it would be to
the person who should lift up the mantle and possibly”——Oh, excellent
Wise Aunt!—“_possibly_, the roguery of getting the parson scratched.”
And, last, the foot-note, to avert parental criticism: “_Let it not be
supposed that Miss B would suffer the Sacred Rite to begin_”.

The author’s sympathies are with the Aunt (she was an aunt herself). So
the Wise Aunt carries off her niece to undergo a moderate process of
conversion. The Foolish Father, who “dotes” upon his daughter “when she
is neatly dressed and tolerably sedate”, is obviously drawn from life.

_The Fairy Spectator_,[97] “By Mrs. Teachwell and Her Family”, is Mrs.
Argus transformed into the Benevolent Educational Fairy of Madame de
Beaumont. Here is a characteristic bit of dialogue:

    _Mrs. Teachwell_: You know that stories of Fairies are all

    _Miss Sprightly_: Oh, yes! Madam.

    _Mrs. Teachwell_: Do you wish for such a Fairy Guardian?

    _Miss Sprightly_: Very much, Madam.

    _Mrs. Teachwell_: Why, my dear?

    _Miss Sprightly_: _Because she would teach me to be good._

A world where all fairies are “fabulous” is, of course, a world without
dreams. When Miss Sprightly weeps on rising, because she cannot banish
the thought of “the most pleasing dream which she ever had in her
life”, the inexorable Mrs. Teachwell meets the situation with a simple
formula: “Idle girl, make haste!” The Fabulous Beings whom she admits on
sufferance are not more fairylike than “the smallest wax doll.”

Two lines from _The Fairy Spectator_ betray the Rousseauist’s attitude to

“I will write you a Dialogue in which the Fairy shall converse, and _I
will give you a Moral for your Dream_.”



    Family authorship—Limitations of the little novel—the English
    setting in early woodcuts: Thomas and John Bewick—the first
    school-story: Sarah Fielding’s _Governess_—Stories of
    country and domestic life: _The Village School_ and _Jemima
    Placid_—Other school-stories—Nature and Truth in _The Juvenile
    Spectator_—Adventures of animals—Mrs. Trimmer’s _Fabulous
    Histories_—_The Life and Perambulation of a Mouse_—_Keeper’s
    Travels_—_The Kitten of Sentiment_—Adventures of things: _The
    Silver Threepence_ and the _Pincushion_.

The great writers for children were neither Lilliputian nor Rousseauist.
They emerged from a good company of aunts and mothers who, with a
sprinkling of fathers, were driven into anonymous authorship by the
demands of their own families: minor moralists, without any special gifts
of art or imagination, who managed to draw live pictures from their own
little world, and hit upon simple devices for holding attention and
exciting interest.

They were mostly innocent of Theory, but an intimate acquaintance with
the Child of Nature taught them in one way or another to avoid the
unpardonable sin of dulness.

Little novels, following their grown-up prototypes with unequal steps,
had their own limitations of setting and character. A nursery or a
schoolroom is always a nursery or a schoolroom, and varies only according
to particular houses and inhabitants. The few ways of escape (by a
window, a chimney or a keyhole) into fairyland, were blocked in most
eighteenth century houses, and the persons of moral tales, however
lifelike, were apt, from contact with a narrow circle, to assume familiar

Adventures of the milder sort might happen on the road to school, but
the only changes of scene were from parlour to schoolroom, or from town
to country. Any effort to exceed these by travels abroad landed the
unsophisticated author in a hopeless confusion of unknown tongues and
half-remembered directions.

And yet there was something in these English settings to compensate a
child for the loss of fairyland, if not to set his feet in the track
of it. Authors chiefly concerned with character were apt to give the
briefest indication of a background; but before 1780, there were woodcuts
that implied more than the words of the story.

Thomas Bewick had cut his first blocks for the York and Newcastle
chap-books, and although he soon passed on from these to a wider study of
Nature, they were enough to seal the fate of the old slovenly pictures in
children’s books.

As a boy, Bewick had filled the margins of his school-books and covered
the hearthstones of his mother’s cottage with drawings of the men and
beasts that he knew about his native village[98]; and these he reproduced
later in the cuts for chap-books and fables.

He could never draw fairies. The “Pigmy Sprite” in Gay’s _Fables_[99] is
not half so fairy-like as the little spinning-wheels and brooms of the
corner-pieces; but his drawings of trees and meadows, rocks and pools,
show the “fairy ground” of his own happy childhood.

It was thus that he gave a new meaning to the country setting which was
now a recognised feature of moral tales. A writer might demand no more of
Nature than that she should provide the Industrious Boy with fruit in
season; but Bewick caught her among the corn ricks or at the corner of a
lane, and she herself took up the parable.

The younger brother, John, who began by adapting some of Bewick’s
drawings, is better known as an illustrator of children’s books. Between
1790 and 1820, there are few cuts that do not show some trace of his
influence, and many of those in the smaller chap-books,—_The Adventures
of a Pincushion_, for example, and _The Life and Adventures of a
Fly_,[100]—have been attributed to him.

In a sense, John was more imaginative than his brother, quicker to
appreciate subtleties of character and expression. There is hardly less
truth of detail in the Lime-walks and rose-gardens of _The Looking Glass
for the Mind_ than in Thomas Bewick’s village scenes; but the little
figures are more graceful and courtly, the backgrounds more delicate.

John Bewick’s illustrations to _The New Robinson Crusoe_ gave shape to
Rousseau’s vague ideal; but his pictures of English children in their
natural surroundings were a literal return to Nature. And although they
were in complete accord with the changed attitude of the story-writers,
they proved (to the confusion of Theorists) that the new Philosophy had
made little impression on the familiar moods of Nature and childhood.

The School-setting, however cramped, was a source of wider interest than
the alternative parlour or nursery. It varied, according to the fortunes
of the persons concerned, from the Village School (commonly built on the
_Two-Shoes_ foundation, but without its Lilliputian features) to the
Academy for young Ladies or Gentlemen: an exclusive community which had
received its traditions from Sarah Fielding’s notable little book _The
Governess_; or, _The Little Female Academy_[101] published some fourteen
years before Rousseau’s _Emile_.

Writing in the first decade of Lilliputian books, the author of _David
Simple_ anticipated Rousseau with a gallery of children’s portraits, and
showed that the Child of Nature could survive pedantic forms as well as

Madame le Prince de Beaumont chose the same framework for her _Misses’
Magazine_;[102] Charles and Mary Lamb used it to connect the separate
stories of _Mrs. Leicester’s School_; Mrs. Sherwood seized upon the book
itself and revised it ruthlessly, and a host of anonymous writers copied
Miss Fielding’s method and envied her genius.

Half periodical, half novel, _The Governess_ was a perfect medium
for “Instruction and Amusement”. It contains sermons, fables,
Oriental-Classic stories and a moralised romance in the style of the
_Cabinet des Fées_.

Of the Governess herself, whose name of Mrs. Teachum became a popular
pseudonym for instructive writers, it must be confessed that she is a
Presence hardly less dominating than Mrs. Mason. To the mature reader,
who is uncomfortably conscious of having met her in real life, she is
more formidable than any lay-figure of a theorist. Her husband, described
as “a very sensible Man who took great Delight in improving his Wife,”
having completed his task, disappears from the story and leaves her to
pass on his improvements, to the “nine young Ladies commited to her
Care.” She is “about forty Years old, tall and genteel in her Person,
though somewhat inclined to Fat,” and her “lively and commanding Eye”
(more human, if less hypnotic than Mrs. Mason’s) “created an Awe in all
her little Scholars, except when she condescended to smile and talk
familiarly with them.”

Theorists, working upon this Paragon, extracted the more human elements;
but the children escaped, like Hop o’ my Thumb out of the Ogre’s house.

The long line of authentic portraits that extends from Miss Fielding to
Miss Edgeworth is of one family, and it is doubtful whether any amount of
“practical education” could have improved some of Mrs. Teachum’s pupils,
restricted as these were to “Reading, Writing, Working and all proper
Forms of Behaviour”.

The naughty children in books, as in life, can take care of themselves,
but it needs a writer of unusual tact to make the good ones live. Miss
Fielding’s good children are more to her credit than the “Rogues” who
figure in some of her best scenes; but there is nothing in the book quite
so amusing as her “Account of a Fray begun and carried on for the Sake of
an Apple, in which are shown the sad Effects of Rage and Anger.”

Mrs. Teachum, entering unexpectedly, produces a sudden calm in which the
losses on all sides can be counted:

“Each of the Misses held in her right hand, fast clenched, some Marks
of Victory. One of them held a little Lock of Hair, torn from the Head
of Her Enemy, another grasped a Piece of a Cap which, in aiming at her
Rival’s Hair, had deceived her Hand and was all the Spoils she could
gain, a third clenched a Piece of an Apron, a fourth of a Frock. In
short, everyone unfortunately held in her Hand a Proof of having been
engaged in the Battle. And the Ground was spread with Rags and Tatters
torn from the Backs of the _little inveterate Combatants_”.

Here is a satirical scene not unworthy of Fielding’s sister, yet not too
subtle for her audience. (The Ladies Caroline and Fanny, new to their
titles, are visiting Miss Jenny Peace.):

“Lady Caroline, who was dressed in a pink Robe embroidered thick with
Gold and adorned with very fine Jewels and the finest Mechlin lace,
addressed most of her Discourse to her Sister, that she might have the
Pleasure every Minute, of uttering ‘Your Ladyship’, in order to show what
she herself expected. Miss Jenny, amused by their insolent Affectation,
addressed herself to Lady Caroline with so many Ladyships and Praises of
fine Clothes as she hoped would have made her ashamed”.

Nobody who reads the book can suspect Miss Fielding of more than a
distant admiration for Mrs. Teachum. Her own sympathies are clearly with
the old dairywoman who, when the children were rebuked for a want of tact
in their remarks to her, replied: “O, let the dear Rogues alone, I like
their Prattle,” and taking Miss Polly (the youngest) by the hand, added:
“Come, my Dear, we will go into the Dairy and skim the Milk pans.”

There is a kind of story-telling, touched with the same wise playfulness,
which is not beyond the talents of average aunts. Two such there were,
sisters-in-law, Dorothy and Mary Jane Kilner, whose stories, published
in Dutch flowered covers, were as popular after 1780 as the earlier
Newberys. There is some doubt about their respective pseudonyms, but
the family records ascribe the signature “M. P.” to Dorothy and “S. S.”
to her sister, which establishes Dorothy as the author of _The Village

Her stories grew naturally out of a happy and uneventful life spent in
the little Essex Village of Maryland Point, and her best critics were
the nephews and nieces for whom she wrote. But she was in the habit of
sending her books to “the Good Mrs. Trimmer” for criticism, and it seems
likely that she wrote _The Village School_ to help that lady in her work
of teaching poor children to read.

“M. P.” (she borrowed the initials of her village) is in some sort a
nursery Crabbe. There is not an incident in her story outside a country
child’s experience: no Babes-in-the Wood opening, no clever animals, no
romance of improbable good fortune. This is the “clean pleasant village”
of every-day life. The schoolmistress, Mrs. Bell, believes in simple
virtues, but has no theories. Boys and girls learn to read, and girls to
spin, knit stockings and sew. They are grouped quite simply, as in some
old-fashioned print, and M. P., having borrowed Miss Fielding’s device
of labelling them with symbolic names, uses it to avoid the complexities
of character. Jacob Steadfast and Kitty Spruce are predestined to carry
off the prizes which Betsy Giddy, Master Crafty and Jack Sneak inevitably
lose; and a child is content with the main distinctions of Good and Bad.

The story, slight as it is, reveals M. P. as an aunt who is not
indifferent to “Flowers picked out of the Hedges, Daisies and Butter
Flowers”; who can make garlands and enjoy a singing-game,—the right sort
of game for village schools:

    “What we have to do is this
    _All bow, all courtesy and all kiss_;
    And first we are our Heads to bow
    As we, my Dear, must all do now;
    Then courtesy down unto the Ground,
    Then rise again and all jump round.”

“You cannot think” she concludes, “how pretty it is when they mind to
sing and dance in the right time.”

This was an aunt who, in her own century, deserved some such tribute as

    “Chief of our Aunts—not only I
    But all your dozen of nurslings cry—
    What did other children do
    And what were Childhood, wanting you?”

_Jemima Placid_,[104] variously ascribed to Dorothy and Mary Jane, is
woven of the same simple stuff. George Frere, writing in 1816 to his
brother Bartle[105], bore witness to its practical effect on one nursery.
They evidently came to it in turn, at a particular age. “You”, he wrote,
“are more of a philosopher than I am and can bear these things better,
and yet I have read _Jemima Placid_ since you have, but you have made the
best use of it”.

A Rousseauist might have overlooked the philosophy in this little
book,—the annals of a parsonage family, in which all the characters are
individuals and friends of the writer; for there is not an ounce of
theory in it. Jemima herself is neither a pedant nor an infant prodigy.
She is never expected to reason about her own development. Her philosophy
is of the older sort that comes of gentle discipline, and she is “placid”
not through pleasing no one but herself, but in spite of other people’s
unjust or exacting ways. It is doubtful whether she would have been very
different under the Eye of Mrs. Mason, but assuredly she would have been
less happy. No theoretic Child of Nature ever was so happy as Jemima with
her brothers.

The scene of parting, when the little girl (six years old) goes to
London, is an introduction to these three:

“I wish you were not going” says Charles, “for I put this box and drove
in these nails on purpose for you to hang up your doll’s clothes, and
now they will be no further use to us.” William bids her not cry, and
promises to write about the young rabbits. “And, Jemima,” adds Charles
more tactfully, “I wish I was going with you to London, for I should like
to see it, ’tis such a large place, a great deal bigger than any village
which we have seen; and they say the houses stand close together for a
great way and there are no fields or trees....”

It is the same village, seen from a different standpoint, narrowed on the
one hand to the record of a particular house, on the other, varied by
journeys and visits to town.

Old customs survive with the flowered covers of the book, and the next
few lines bring _Jemima Placid_ into touch with her predecessors. For
in London there is a great number of shops, and to be sure, among
other things, Jemima must bring back “Some little books which we can
understand, and which ... may be bought at Mr. Marshall’s _somewhere in
some churchyard_, but Jemima must inquire about it.”

The little things that make up a child’s life happen with natural
inconsequence. What gives the book a hold is the author’s unaffected
truth and tenderness, the modest philosophy which hides under simple
speeches or incidents.

Who but Jemima Placid, the unhappy guest of two spoilt London cousins,
could comfort herself under unjust reproof with “the rough drawing of a
little horse, which Charles had given her on the day of her departure and
which she had since carefully preserved.”

It is no wonder that her brothers are loth to welcome the Londoners on
their return visit; but “S. S.” can make her own “Book of Courtesy”, and
she refreshes it with the comments of real boys. William answers his
father’s rebuke with disconcerting logic: “You always tell me that the
naughtiest thing I can do is to tell lies, and I am sure I am very sorry
they are come, for I like Jemima to ourselves: so pray, Sir, what would
you choose I should do?”

There is not a trace of the “Juvenile Correspondent” in Charles’s letters
to Jemima; but the sentiment of humanitarians is mere vapouring compared
with this boy’s account of how they found the dog shot by a game-keeper
and buried him under the Laylock tree.

“‘Poor Hector! I shall hate Ben Hunt as Long as I live for it!’

‘Fy Charles’ said my father. ‘_Hector is dead, Sir_,’ said I, and I did
not stay to hear any further.”

Elizabeth Sandham, who wrote somewhat later “for the Children of former
Schoolfellows”, claimed a wider influence for the story of school life.
“A school”, she says, “may be styled the world in miniature. There the
passions which actuate the man may be seen on a smaller scale.”

On this assumption, she ventured into the unknown microcosm of a boys’
school,[106] where even Miss Edgeworth came to grief; but her book was a
model for some hundreds of school stories in which ambitious, studious or
mischievous boys play impossible parts. She was more at home in a later
study of schoolgirls[107]: careful sketches, brightened by satirical
remarks; but the moral is too obvious. Miss Sandham’s sense of humour was
too slight for effective relief.

An admirable miscellany, which brings genuine adventure and comedy into
the school setting, is _The Academy; r, a Picture of Youth_,[108]
published in 1808 by a Scottish schoolmaster who, in his preface, claims
to have taught “all ranks, from the peer’s son to the children of the
lower orders.” His taste is hardly less catholic than his experience,
for he not only adds satirical and dramatic scenes to the old fables and
admonitions, but adapts Berquin to an English atmosphere, and is ready to
sympathise with the shepherd, the labourer, the old man and his horse.
The book is a medley of old manners and new sentiments, in which the
characters, although they stand for familiar types, earn some rights of
personality by individual acts and speeches.

This author is indebted to Smollett for a trick of making his characters
talk in the language of their callings. Young Tradewell’s father consigns
him to the Rector’s care “per the bearer,” as if he were a bale of
merchandise; and a nautical father advises a son who has “gone a little
out of his course” to “sail clear of faults”, but if at any time he is
driven into them, to “be a brave boy and steer honourably off.”

Satire in Children’s books is apt to miss its mark. Some parents who
bought this _Picture of Youth_ must have felt like the old gentleman
of the story, who was furious at a clever caricature of himself until
somebody assured him that it was intended for his neighbour. Restored
to good humour by similar means, they would doubtless enjoy these
burlesques: the foolish indulgent mother, the sporting squire who laughs
at his son’s escapades, the parents who teach their boy “to recite
passages with tragic effect from our best poets”.

The Rector’s rational methods recall _Sandford and Merton_; but the book
is for older lads. The Bad Boy of _The Academy_ is more like a hero
of Picaresque romance, and the Good Boy (the son of a naval officer,
destined for the Service) is a new figure in moral tales; a pupil “highly
acceptable to the Rector” for his own sake; the more so, perhaps, for the
fresh memory of Trafalgar.

English people have an inherent power of reconciling opposites, which
perhaps comes of their being a mixed race. The most revolutionary
writers were held back by some thread of ancient custom, and those who
clung to the older modes of thought were not without some broadening
influence. “Nature” and “Truth” were still the accepted ideals of
literature, although the meaning of both had changed; and _The Juvenile
Spectator_,[109] which applied Addison’s method of character-drawing to
the nursery, used it with a new understanding of childhood.

Mrs. Arabella Argus,[110] its author, adds piquancy to her general scheme
by introducing herself as a Grandmother. Doubtless she was old enough to
remember Lilliputian traditions; but she was also too young to forget
the newer counsels of sanity and freedom. Like Addison, she begins by
describing herself and her aims, but so far is she from admiring the
model of the Baby Spectator, that she directs her brightest satire
against “little prodigies” and child-philosophers.

She is “an old woman, but not an old witch nor yet a fairy”; and without
resorting to anything so irrational as magic, she is able to set forth
secret information upon “Nursery Anecdotes, Parlour Foibles, Garden
Mischief and Hyde Park Romps”.

Now, a Newbery writer might have dealt with the first two of these items;
but he never could have countenanced such portents of revolution as
“Garden Mischief” and “Hyde Park Romps”.

The letters which Mrs. Argus receives from children show nothing like the
decorum of the Goodwill Correspondence.

Here is one from a typical Bad Boy (which however, Mrs. Argus contrasts
with another, “couched in terms of becoming timidity”, from a girl):

    “To Mrs. Argus,

    “A friend of Mamma’s says that you are very clever at finding
    out the faults of children, pray tell me mine, for if you are
    as cunning as she says you are, I need not mention them to you.
    I am certain I know you; don’t you walk in the Park sometimes?
    I am sure you do, though, and you have a very long nose; my
    sister Charlotte and I hope you will answer this directly, for
    we are in a great hurry to be satisfied about you.


                                                    CHARLES OSBORN.”

Mrs. Argus gives sound and pleasantly pointed advice in her replies,
though she loses more than one laugh to modern readers in her care for

“Will you be so good” she writes in one postscript “as to tell your
brother that the word _Thump_ which occurred in his letter appears to me
an expression unworthy of a well-educated child.”

Yet she surprises a pugnacious grandson with the novel argument that so
few things are worth fighting about; and shows a genuine sympathy with
boyish pranks.

Her remarks upon fairy tales are a juvenile version of Addison on the
“Lady’s Library”. She knows exactly what sort of writing pleases some
children; how “the eager eyes of a little story-loving dame glisten with
delight” at a promising opening, and the lover of fairy tales “wishes,
just to gratify her curiosity, that there were really such creatures as
fairies”. Yet she is so far persuaded that “an early course of light
reading is very prejudicial to sound acquirement”, that she rejects any
story without the hall-mark of a “Moral”.

       *       *       *       *       *

A favourite device for connecting the haphazard events of ordinary life
(and one that embellished the bare truth) was borrowed from current
satires. _The History of Pompey the Little; or, the Life and Adventures
of a Lap-Dog_[111] became a model for stories in which an animal, telling
the story of its life, acts as an observer and critic of human conduct.

Humanitarians and lovers of nature, taking up this form, produced more
or less faithful studies of birds and animals; and critics who objected
to fables, or thought satire dangerous had nothing to say against this
mixture of Natural History and Morality.

Doubtless the stricter guardians of youth looked askance at such a
defiance of Reason; but the “Creatures” had an immense influence in
the Nursery: their morals were vouched for by Æsop and all his tribe.
After all, it was only a new way of presenting the old lessons, and the
sternest parent could hardly reject so engaging a tutor as a Robin or a

Miss Fielding’s _Governess_ had not a larger following of School Stories
than Mrs. Trimmer’s _Fabulous Histories_[112] produced in moral tales
of birds and beasts. This little book, better known by its later title,
_The History of the Robins_, was suggested by Mrs. Trimmer’s children,
which may account for its being her only imaginative work. The children,
taught during walks in the fields and gardens “to take particular notice
of _every object_ that presented itself to their view”, were able, by a
natural process of elimination, to develop a chief interest in animals,
and “used often to express a wish that their Birds, Cats, Dogs etc.,
could talk, that they might hold conversations with them”. Their mother,
instead of rebuking them for so irrational a desire, adapted the idea of
talking birds to her own theories of morality and for once managed to see
things from a child’s point of view.

Her own childhood had never been anything but middle-aged. At ten she
wrote like a grown-up person, and her youth was spent in the company
of people much older then herself. Dr. Johnson, meeting her as a girl
of fifteen at Reynolds’s, was so much struck by her behaviour that he
invited her to his house next day, and presented her with a copy of
_The Rambler_.[113] This may have had its effect upon a style developed
in formal “correspondence” under her father’s direction; at any rate,
her diction remained pompous and conventional. Mrs. Trimmer “composed”
works as she “indited” letters. In “composing” _Fabulous Histories_,
she “seemed to fancy herself conversing with her own children in her
accustomed manner”; but that was because she was accustomed to converse,
not talk.

The children, secure in the possession of a “kind pussy Mamma”, never
noticed it; to them it was the most natural thing in the world that birds
should converse in the same way.

In their family relations, the robins are passable understudies of the
excellent Mr. and Mrs. Trimmer and their children; but the introduction
of a human family as their patrons and protectors restores them to the
shape of birds. For the first time in the history of children’s books,
the real centre of interest is transferred from the conduct of children
to such matters as living in a nest and learning to fly.

Here is a good example of Mrs. Trimmer’s style:

“When Miss Harriet first appeared, the winged suppliants approached with
eager expectation of the daily handful which their kind benefactress made
it a custom to distribute”.

On the human side, Mrs. Benson, a kind of domestic Mrs. Teachum, presides
over the morals of a son and daughter. Her interest in education is
almost equal to Mrs. Trimmer’s, who “wearied her friends by making it
so frequently the subject of conversation”; but benevolence softens her
utilitarian morality. When Master Frederick rushes to the window to feed
his birds and forgets to bid his Mamma good-morning, she admonishes him

“Remember, my dear, that you depend as much on your Papa and me for
everything you want, as these little birds do on you; nay, more so, for
they could find food in other places; but children can do nothing towards
their own support; they should therefore be dutiful and respectful to
those whose tenderness and care they constantly experience.”

The Robin family is more than half human. Nestlings, distinguished by
the expressive names of Robin, Dicky, Flapsy and Pecksy, exhibit all
the faults of children. But there is a world of difference between Mrs.
Trimmer’s treatment and that of the fabulist. She has learned to look at
a nest of birds from a child’s point of view; what is infinitely more
novel and surprising, she actually shifts her ground and considers the
Benson household _from the standpoint of a bird_. It is here that so many
of her imitators lost the trail; and thus it is that their books were
soon forgotten, while hers was read with delight for a century.

The adventure of the nestlings and the gardener has something of the
fascination of _Gulliver_. This is Robin’s description of the “Monster”
who visited them in their mother’s absence:

“.... Suddenly we heard a noise against the wall, and presently a great
round red face appeared before the nest, with a pair of enormous staring
eyes, a very large _beak_, and below that a wide mouth with _two rows of
bones_ that looked as if they could grind us all to pieces in an instant.
About the top of this round face, and down the sides, hung something
black, but _not like feathers_”.

The children dragged Mrs. Trimmer from her didactic throne: they even
made her talk their language. Her own style is reserved for the parent
birds, and in discussing important matters, the young ones imitate them.

“This great increase of family”, says the Robin to his mate, “renders
it prudent to make use of every means for supplying our necessities.
I myself must take a larger circuit.” The Mother bird thus addresses
her penitent son: “I have listened to your lamentations, and since you
seem convinced of your error, I will not add to your sufferings by my

All this can be endured for the sake of so many delightful incidents. For
a child can climb up the ivy and creep under the wing of the mother bird.
He can join the nestlings in their first singing-lesson, follow them
in their first flight, and best of all, he can look at the great world
beyond the nest with their wondering eyes:

“_The orchard itself appeared to them a world._ For some time each
remained silent, gazing around, first at one thing, then at another; at
length Flapsy cried out: ‘What a charming place the world is! I had no
conception that it was half so big!’”

_The Life and Perambulation of a Mouse_[114] was Dorothy Kilner’s
contribution to the literature of talking beasts. The author is
discovered in a frontispiece, seated at a little round table, in a
mob-cap and kerchief. Her quill has just reached the end of the second
line. Erect in a box of wafers, the Mouse, with extended paw, is
dictating the story of his life.

This “chief of aunts,” snow-bound in a country house with many “young
folk,” takes up her pen at their request, to attempt her autobiography.

“I took up my pen, it is true”, she writes, “but not one word toward my
appointed task could I proceed....

‘Then write mine, which may be more diverting’, said a little squeaking

Few “Introductions” were so promising, and the story (apart from
inevitable lessons) keeps its promise.

Four mice, Nimble (the narrator) and his brothers Longtail, Softdown
and Brighteyes, correspond to Mrs. Trimmer’s nestlings; over whom, to a
child’s mind, they have one advantage: they are _outlaws_, repeating in
miniature the adventures of Robin Hood.

To be sure, they lack the outlaw’s chief virtues, for they fly at the
approach of an enemy, and rob rich and poor alike. And although such
creatures could always be excused in the words of Dr. Watts:

    “_For ’tis their Nature too_,”

a problem remains to puzzle the wit of a little philosopher: how it
happens that creatures so keenly alive to human errors are blind to the
iniquity of eating a poor woman’s cake, a present from her foster-son, or
the solitary candle that lights a poor man to bed. For indeed, these mice
are unsparing critics of cowardly, cruel and overbearing children; they
have a full repertory of moral and cautionary tales; they preach sermons
on human courage and honour.

The child of action puts aside all questioning, jumps nimbly into a
mouse’s skin and makes a fifth on these marauding expeditions. He
scuttles along behind the wainscot, buries himself in the most delicious
of plum cakes, outwits the footman, narrowly escapes the trap and thrills
at his first sight of the cat.

In a mischievous mood, he can hide in a lady’s shoe, or wake the
children and hear them wonder what it was. There are Eastern adventures
to be had among “spacious and elegant apartments”, where he can choose
from “a carpet of various colours” a flower that will hide him, and
crouch motionless at a passing footstep; and when there is a price upon
his head, or the house catches fire, there are still more thrilling
adventures of escape.

Should a critic remark that these things do not make up one quarter of
the book, a child may tell him that he does not mind sermons and, for
that matter, can preach them himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1798, one of the most realistic animal stories appeared: _Keeper’s
Travels in Search of his Master_,[115] the adventures of a dog. Its
author, Mr. Kendall, wrote other books, mostly about birds;[116] but
_Keeper’s Travels_ was the only serious rival to _Fabulous Histories_.

If any parent had scruples about talking beasts, here was a book that
could be put into a child’s hand with perfect safety. No eighteenth
century writer could help making an animal reason as if he were human;
but this is a real dog, wagging and whimpering his way through the book,
and if he does not speak, the story is not a whit less interesting for

From the time that he loses sight of his master on a market-day by
being “so attentive to half a dozen fowls that were in a basket”, his
adventures are entirely natural and probable.

Keeper is never too human for belief: he does nothing that any dog might
not do; yet he makes a good hero,—sticking to his quest in spite of pain
and hunger, refusing comforts and saving the lives of children. Mr.
Kendall sums up his hero’s virtues in a quotation from Cowper, for those
who are “not too proud to stoop to quadruped instructors”. He was not
the only lover of animals to quote a humanitarian poet. The author of
_The Juvenile Spectator_ in her quaint _Adventures of a Donkey_,[117] has
these lines from Coleridge below the frontispiece:

    “Poor little foal of an oppressed race!
    I love the languid patience of thy face:
    And oft with gentle hand I give thee bread,
    And clap thy ragged coat and pat thy head.”

The Autobiography of a Cat was a more delicate task, a psychologist could
not explain the workings of its mind, although a careful observer might
record its more intelligible movements; but since every cat is a critic
of human character, there was nothing in the way of sermon or satire that
it could not achieve.

Elizabeth Sandham’s _Adventures of Poor Puss_[118] is a very literal
story, setting off the philosophy of “two four-footed moralisers” on
a sunny wall; but the anonymous author of _Felissa; or, the Life and
Opinions of a Kitten of Sentiment_[119] produced a masterpiece in this

Felissa is a Kitten of Satire as well as of Sentiment. This Author
adopted the form of _Pompey the Little_ in order to ridicule cant and
affectation in general, and Rousseau’s doctrine in particular; yet the
chief aim of the book (as the title-page shows) is to turn a child’s
thoughts from the hackneyed problems of juvenile conduct:

    “We’ll have our Mottoes and our Chapters too,
    And brave the Thunders of the dread Review:
    _Misses no more o’er Misses’ Woes shall wail,_
    _But list attentive to a Kitten’s Tale_.”

The heroine’s pedigree goes back to Perrault; she actually claims
descent from “that noble, excellent and exceeding wise Cat ... who owed
his honours to the liberality and gratitude of the celebrated nobleman
the Lord Marquis of Carabas”; and indeed she resembles her ancestor as
much in “Genius and Discretion” as she excels him in Morals. She is one
that might have sat on Dr. Johnson’s knee; her remarks upon Rousseau
would have delighted him. Describing the Countess of Dashley, her little
mistress’s mother, she says that this lady “had been advised by a French
gentleman, one Mr. Rousseau, to suffer her children to remain foolish
till seven or eight years of age, when, he said, they would grow wise of
their own accord”, a plan “so easy and delightful” that she immediately
adopted it.

Felissa’s satire has the prettiest effect of innocence. One moment she is
all kittenish mischief, the next, lost in wonder at the lady of fashion
who spares half a moment on the way to her carriage to peep in at her
little girl.

“For my part,” declares the Kitten, “my eyes were so dazzled by her
dress and her diamonds, and so alarmed by some feathers that grew out of
her head, in a manner which I had never witnessed before, but in my old
master’s cockatoo at the Castle (and she never wore hers so high), that
it was some minutes before I could recover myself.”

The episode of a mock-christening, which recalls the _Juvenile Tatler_,
serves to change the scene. Felissa, provoked to scratch, is sent down
in disgrace to a country Rectory, where she enjoys a quiet interval; but
before long, the Bad Nephew gets the better of the Good Midshipman, and
the kitten runs away.

She now seeks a refuge in the house of “the most charitable woman
living”, where, taking up her old part of unconscious critic, she
discovers that charity may be a mere cloak for display; and coming thence
to another house, ventures into the library of a Man of Sentiment whose
portrait would have pleased Rousseau’s enemies.

“I crept behind a huge folio to recover my fright and, as usual, set
about rendering my person neat and attractive, in expectation of soon
becoming visible. My new master, it was evident, could never have been
instructed on this subject; for as I peeped at him from behind my folio,
I thought that he was the dirtiest and most disagreeable man I had ever
seen in my life; and wished from my heart, that my nice clean father and
mother had had the education of him. He was short and thick, and by no
means pretty; of an ill complexion, and his face very far from clean;
_all his skins_, likewise, were of a bad colour, _both his shirt skin and
his outer-skin_, which seemed much out of repair....”

She is irresistible, this Felissa: reassured to find the sentimentalist
writing an _Ode to Mercy_; listening “with her ears pricked up, _as if
she had been watching for a mouse_,” while he reads it to his daughter;
puzzled by the extraordinary fact that “the more she appeared distressed,
the more pleased her father seemed to be.” It is even more unaccountable
that a young lady of so much sensibility should turn a starved kitten out
of doors. “But kittens are easily puzzled”, and Felissa runs into fresh
adventures on her way to a happy ending.

Her fortune is almost too modest for a descendant of Puss in Boots: no
more than the blessings of an Establishment and many friends; but the
chief of these is the daughter of an officer “who lost his invaluable
life in the memorable battle which deprived our country of the gallant
and lamented Nelson.”

She, of course, marries the promoted Midshipman, and the Kitten, having
attained a certain seniority, and finding little scope for her sly wit,
devotes herself to the instruction and amusement of little _Felissae_. If
a story could end better, let the Wyse Chylde show how.

       *       *       *       *       *

Adventures of things, a variation of the same idea, were mostly derived
from Charles Johnstone’s novel, _Chrysal; or, the Adventures of a

If small coins might be supposed to talk as well as great ones (and
moralists saw no reason against it), a silver Threepence,[121] the
equivalent of a guinea in juvenile commerce, could relate transactions at
the Village Shop or at the corner of St. Paul’s Churchyard which, if less
thrilling than the Guinea’s, were more creditable to those concerned.

Other subjects of these stories had a greater fascination for unworldly
youth. These were things that a child would play with or carry about: a
Doll, a Pegtop or a Pincushion, which, from their intimate association
with the family, were in a position to discuss its affairs.

“S. S.” designed her _Adventures of a Pincushion_[122] “chiefly for the
use of young ladies,” little thinking that old ones would turn back with
delight to these records of domestic life in their great-grandmothers’

It seems that the proper place for a pincushion (that essentially
feminine possession) was the pocket; but there were occasions, making
for adventure, when it was put into a workbag by mistake, or “lent to
Miss Meekly to fasten her Bib”, and then it was sure to be carried off in
another pocket to another house.

One effect of the book, unforeseen by its gentle author, was doubtless
to increase the number of lost pincushions; for never, until it was
published, had little Misses suspected what secret critics and inveterate
gossips they carried about with them, disguised in harmless taffetas.

Rarely indeed is this watchful companion at a loss for information, but
once (when S. S. decides to skip a scene) it remarks:

“The ladies now retired to dinner, but I am ignorant of what passed
there, as I was left upon a piece of embroidery.”

As for the woodcuts, they may well be John Bewick’s; they follow each
turn of the author’s quiet humour. Any little Miss could tell at a glance
that Martha was personating the Music Master and Charlotte teaching the
rest to dance. These pictures show everything but the colours, and for
that matter, nobody shrank from painting the Green Parlour, when the
pincushion declared that “the furniture was all of that colour”. Bewick
Collectors have never understood the fatal attraction of “plain” cuts.

“S. S.”, justifying her simple narrative in a preface (and thinking,
perhaps, of _Chrysal_), admits that “the pointed satire of ridicule might
have added zest to her story”, but thinks it unfit for children.

“To exhibit their superiors in a ridiculous view is not the proper method
to engage the youthful mind to respect. To represent their equals as
objects of contemptuous mirth is by no means favourable to the interest
of good nature. And to treat the characters of their inferiors with
levity, the author thought, was inconsistent with the sacred rights of

The criticism is a thought too serious. Ridicule is not always a bad
method of dealing with children’s faults; “S. S.” herself could use it
on occasion. Had she forgotten the Wagstaffs’ party in _Jemima Placid_,
or the delightful mischief of the dressing of Sally Flaunt, in which the
Pincushion played a chief part?

It is really a question of treatment; a wooden sword is sharp enough for
the nursery. If children are simply tickled by incongruities or miss the
point altogether, it is because the satirist has an eye on the grown-up
part of his audience. But, as “S. S.” points out, there is a danger that
incidents will be dragged in for satirical ends “without any cause to
produce them”; and, true to her own simple canon of art, she decides
“to make them arise naturally from the subject”, though it increase the
difficulties of her task.

The Preface shows a concern for form which is rare in these modest
writers; and the method justifies itself.

It is extraordinary that so much food for profit and enjoyment could be
stored in the shelves of old-fashioned houses.



    The fallacy of Disguise—Qualities of the “great” writers—Mrs.
    Barbauld’s literary lessons: _Hymns in Prose_—_Evenings
    at Home_—A new vein of romance—Charles Lamb’s attack
    on the Schoolroom: Science and Poetry—The _Tales from
    Shakespeare_—“Lilliputian” attitude of the Lambs—_The
    Adventures of Ulysses_—_Mrs. Leicester’s School_—The Taylors
    of Ongar: Imagination and spiritual life—Method of work—_The
    Contributions of Q. Q._—“The Life of a Looking Glass”—Mrs.
    Sherwood: the struggle between imagination and dogma—_The
    Infant’s Progress_—_The History of the Fairchild Family_.

Disguise is of little advantage to a writer, least of all to a writer of
children’s books. For although he has many invisible cloaks to choose
from, Sharp-Eyes and Fine-Ear are hot upon his track. They recognise the
pedant under his “Mask of Amusement”, they judge the Moralist by the
standard of his own Bad Boy, and are no more impressed by the Perfect
Parent or Tutor than birds by a scarecrow, when once they have found out
that it is not alive.

A writer may be just as sincere in acknowledging the reality of wonders
as in finding matter of interest in everyday things, if he express his
own point of view; but the maker of puppets or bogeys has given up his
personality and disguised his voice. He may be forgiven if he can reveal
himself at odd moments by individual gestures, as the whimsical editor of
a Lilliputian “Gift” would sometimes peep out in his preface; no single
lapse will be remembered against him: the “Children’s Friend” atoned for
one little Grandison by many lifelike portraits.

But the great writers were those that lived most fully in their
stories. It was no more essential that they should write nothing else
but children’s books than that a mother should never go outside her
nursery; for as every man (unless he be a pedant or a monster) has
something of the child in him, so every child likes to enter into the
talk and business of men. There never was a good child’s book that a
grown-up person could not enjoy; and the habit of “talking-down” to
children, whether in books or in life, is more fatal to understanding and
friendship than the abstract reasoning of the Lilliputians. When Johnson
praised Dr. Watts for his condescension in writing children’s verses,
he did him an injustice, for no man could have taken a little task more
seriously. As to Mrs. Barbauld,[123] had she deserved half the abuse of
her critics, she never would have found favour in so many nurseries.

De Quincey, who was evidently well-disposed towards the “Queen of all
the Blue-stockings” (in spite of her misguided preference for Sinbad)
says that she “occupied the place from about 1780 to 1805 which from 1805
to 1835 was occupied by Miss Edgeworth.” At any rate she was a pioneer
in the art of writing for children, and Miss Edgeworth had a genuine
admiration for her work.

But although there was a certain likeness in the aims and ideas of these
two, each had her own qualities, which were the outcome of essential
differences in character.

Mrs. Barbauld had grown up among the boys of her father’s school, and in
her youth was as active and mischievous as a boy. There is a story told
of how she escaped an importunate suitor by climbing an apple-tree in the
garden and dropping over the wall into a lane. Miss Edgeworth, in the
same situation, would have walked out by the gate.

It is true that none of Mrs. Barbauld’s stories show this spirit of
mischief: she was playful only in light verse or talk or letters; but
she made her personality felt in a romantic attitude to life and Nature,
which, although it did not much affect her choice of subjects, made her
style unusually free and moving.

She had no children of her own, but adopted a nephew, “little Charles”,
for whom she wrote most of her stories; and at Palgrave, where she and
her husband had a school, she was the mother, tutor and playfellow of the

The tutor, indeed, comes out in all her stories; the playfellow and the
mother are not always there. Yet she was dominated neither by facts
nor theories. A deep sense of spiritual truth underlay her teaching,
and her feeling for the poetry of Nature was the nearest approach to a
Renaissance of Wonder in children’s books.

It may be doubted whether the famous _Hymns in Prose_[124] ever appealed
to children as it did to their parents. Mrs. Barbauld entirely disagreed
with Rousseau’s principle that there should be no religious teaching in
early life, and that a young child cannot appreciate natural beauties;
but she also rejected Paley’s crude idea of the Creator as a sort of
Divine Mechanic,[125] which some writers preferred to the neutral deism
of Rousseau.

She held that children’s thoughts should be led from the beauty of the
flower to the wonder of creation.

“A child”, she says, “to feel the full force of the idea of God, ought
never to remember when he had no such idea.” It must come early, with no
insistence upon dogma, in association with “all that a child sees, all
that he hears, all _that affects his mind with wonder or delight_.”

“Wonder” was a word unknown to educational theorists, who believed that
everything could be discovered or explained. It is her use of those
words “wonder” and “delight” which sets Mrs. Barbauld apart from other
writers of little books, for it shows something like the spirit of
romantic poetry.

The revealing power of the poet was never hers. She feels, but cannot
show a child as many wonders as he could find for himself in the nearest
hedgerow. The _Hymns_ are a kind of compromise between “Emblems” and
pictures of Nature. There are no far-fetched analogies: the parable of
the Chrysalis anticipates Mrs. Gatty;[126] and the language, though
rhythmic, is free from the conventional phrases which spoil some of Mrs.
Barbauld’s “prose-poetry.”

Any mother might use the same images to give her child a first idea of
the love of God:

“As the mother moveth about the house with her fingers on her lips, and
stilleth every little noise that her infant be not disturbed; as she
draweth the curtains around its bed and shutteth out the light from its
tender eyes; so God draweth the curtains of darkness around us, so He
maketh all things to be hushed and still that His large family may sleep
in peace.”

But it was the Tutor in Mrs. Barbauld that made her choose prose; for
although she was a facile verse-writer, she was better acquainted with
Latin hexameters than with ballads, and doubted whether children should
be allowed to read verse “before they could judge of its merit”.

Her best work is certainly in _Evenings at Home_[127], the popular
miscellany which she and her brother, Dr. Aikin, brought out in parts
between 1792 and 1796.

“Sneyd is delighted with the four volumes of _Evenings at Home_”,
wrote Miss Edgeworth in 1796, “and has pitched upon the best
stories—‘Perseverance against Fortune,’ ‘The Price of a Victory’,

It would take an Edgeworth boy to amuse himself with “The Price of a
Victory”, a logical exposition which robs soldiering of its romance;
or with “Capriole”, the tale of a little girl and her pet goat; but
“Perseverance against Fortune” fills a whole “Evening” with adventures
that most boys would read. The hero is sold as a slave, pressed into the
Navy and suffers many other hardships before he succeeds as a farmer. Yet
he is a mere type of the persevering man. The story amounts to little
more than a clear statement of what happened, with pictures of what was
there. It was the matter of these tales that chiefly interested Miss
Edgeworth. She approved of arguments against the cruelties of war, she
wept with the little girl over her lost pet, she heartily admired the
good farmer for his patient industry and liked to picture his fields,
fenced off from the “wild common”, his “orchards of fine young fruit
trees”, his hives and his garden.

Sneyd Edgeworth had had a “practical education” and kept the family
traditions. Another boy, perhaps, would have chosen “Travellers’
Wonders,” though the traveller confessed that he never met with
Lilliputians, nor saw the black loadstone mountains nor the valley
of diamonds; or, if these “voyages” were too tame, there were “The
Transmigrations of Indur”, adventures of a man, an antelope, a dormouse,
a whale,—centred in one person by the mystery of transmigration.

Mrs. Barbauld wrote without apology of “the time when Fairies and Genii
possessed the powers which they have now lost”. Nobody reading “Indur”
would suspect her of a design to teach Natural History; but she never
forgot her profession and there are more lessons than stories in her

The average boy would submit to a talk about Earth and Sun, or Metals,
or the manufacture of Paper, rather than read “Order and Disorder, a
_Fairy Tale_”, and doubtless, in those days, boys were less impatient of
Instruction; but a lesson never can be a story. A hundred stories could
be written on Stevenson’s text:

    “The world is so full of a number of things.
    I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings”;

but the authors of _Evenings at Home_ chose instead the encyclopædic
ideal of “Eyes and no Eyes”, and produced a series of object lessons.
What was worse, Mrs. Barbauld, in her anxiety to be clear, made the fatal
mistake of “talking down”.

Charles Lamb, writing to Coleridge in 1802, bitterly resents her
popularity: “Goody Two Shoes” he says, “is almost out of print. Mrs.
Barbauld’s stuff has banished all the old classics of the nursery, and
the shopman at Newbery’s hardly deigned to reach them off an old exploded
corner of the shelf when Mary asked for them. Mrs. Barbauld’s and Mrs.
Trimmer’s nonsense lay in piles about. Knowledge, insignificant and vapid
as Mrs. Barbauld’s books convey, it seems must come to a child in the
shape of knowledge; and his empty noddle must be turned with conceit
of his own powers when he has learnt that a horse is an animal, and
Billy is better than a horse, and such like, instead of _that beautiful
interest in wild tales_, which made the child a man, while all the time
he suspected himself to be no bigger than a child. Science has succeeded
to poetry no less in the little walks of children than with men. Is there
no possibility of averting this sore evil? Think what you would have
been now, if instead of being fed with tales and old wives’ fables in
childhood, you had been crammed with Geography and Natural History!”

Lamb is so clear upon the main issue that he cannot be just to the
“instructive” children’s book. He loved the tales of his own childhood,
with their “flowery and gilt” and all their delightful oddities.

For that, and because he understood the gentle humour of the
“Lilliputians”, he forgot whole pages of “instruction” in _Goody Two
Shoes_, and placed it on a level with the “wild tales” of romance and

Had Mary and he read _Fabulous Histories_ together, or “The
Transmigrations of Indur”, he might have allowed some “old exploded
corner of a shelf” to the schoolroom authors; at any rate he would not
have written:

“Hang them! I mean the cursed Barbauld crew, those blights and blasts of
all that is human in man and child!”

Science had succeeded to poetry. “The little walks of children” ran
through Botanical Gardens; but there is no doubt at all that children,
those amphibious breathers of romance and realism, enjoyed it.

Lamb’s quarrel with the Schoolroom was something of a paradox. He
took the side of the Romantics against the Scientists; and yet wrote
children’s books at the suggestion of the arch-theorist Godwin, who,
as his publisher, naturally had some influence upon his choice. It was
doubtless through Godwin that, instead of following the traditions he
admired, he began by “adapting” greater works, and went on to write about
children from a grown-up point of view.

The greater number of the _Tales from Shakespear_[128] are Mary’s; but
she and Charles lived and wrote in such accord, that there is no marked
difference in the style. His, of course, are freer and more graceful.

“I have done Othello and Macbeth,” he writes to Manning (May 10th, 1806),
“and mean to do all the tragedies. I think it will be popular among the
little people, besides money. It’s to bring in sixty guineas.”

Now it is one thing to turn a child loose in an old library,—he will
forage for himself and will seldom choose any but wholesome fare. It is
quite another to provide him with such stories as “Measure for Measure”,
“Othello” and “Cymbeline”; to simplify the philosophy of _Hamlet_ and
weaken the grim magnificence of _Lear_.

The raw material of the plays would not attract many children, and those
who were ready for Lamb’s _Tales_ might have gone to Shakespeare himself.

It is clear, then, that the Lambs were Lilliputian in their attitude to
children. Yet they were wise in their generation; for in 1805 (when they
began to write the _Tales_) a boy of twelve was playing Romeo, Hamlet and
Macbeth to crowded houses at Covent Garden and Drury Lane.[129]

The “little people” of the day were incredibly mature. To know them, in
the delicate studies of Charles and Mary Lamb, is to find the limits of
Rousseau’s influence. For in spite of the pioneer work of Mr. Day, and
the activities of the whole “Barbauld crew”, these were Lilliputians, the
children of Lilliputians. Lamb’s _Tales_ must have been infinitely more
diverting than most of the books they read; and if some, more childlike
than the rest, flinched at the tragedies, they could turn to the magician
Prospero, the fairies of _A Midsummer Night’s Dream_, or the trial
between the Merchant and the Jew.

After all, the Lambs understood the vital qualities of the stuff they
used. Who would not choose these tales rather than “The Price of a
Victory”? They are not lessons, but literature, and that is why children
are still reading them.

Lamb’s next venture was surer.

“Did you ever read my Adventures of Ulysses,[130] founded on Chapman’s
old translation of it?” he asks in a letter to Barton, “for children or
men. Chapman is divine, and my abridgment has not quite emptied him of
his divinity.”

A prose version of Homer, if he had gone straight to the Greek, would
have been still better; there was no good reason for turning Chapman into
prose, although Lamb could do it gently.

But Mrs. Barbauld’s “nonsense” fades into insignificance beside the
matter of this book, and her remarks about “wonder and delight” have not
half the meaning of Lamb’s phrase “_for children or men_.”

These were “adventures” that had been told in the childhood of the Greek
people. Lamb knew they were a natural food for children, trusted his
instinct and defied his publisher.

In the matter of catering for children, Godwin was constrained on the one
side by his theories, on the other by the parents who bought the books.

Not every parent professed his hard and cold philosophy, but they were
mostly concerned for morals, and if any lacked interest in the more
serious problems of education, they were the more likely to be caught
by some prevailing pose of “Sensibility”. It did not follow, if they
allowed their children to read “Othello”, that they would approve of
the primitive survivals in Homer; nor did these in the least agree with
Godwin’s exalted theories of the uncivilised mind. He would have had Lamb
soften his account of the Cyclops devouring his victims, and the putting
out of the monster’s eye, which Lamb called “lively images of shocking
things”. This is the point where Art and Theory must part company.

“If you want a book which is not occasionally to shock”, wrote Lamb, “you
should not have thought of a tale which was so full of anthropophagi and
wonders. I cannot alter these things without enervating the book, and I
will not alter them if the penalty should be that you and all the London
Booksellers should refuse it.”

Lamb had good reason to trust his sister’s judgment where children were
concerned. Their partnership in the making of little books was one-sided,
and in a letter to Barton, Charles confessed that he wrote only three
of the stories in _Mrs. Leicester’s School_:[131] “I wrote only the
Witch Aunt, the First Going to Church and the final story about a little
Indian girl in a ship”. But there are many subtle touches in the rest
which suggest his hand, and if one may hazard a guess at their manner
of working, Mary wrote little that they did not first discuss together,
and revised much with his help. The framework of the book is all that
connects it with Miss Fielding’s _Governess_; there is nothing of her
bright objective treatment.

This, indeed, is not a child’s book at all, but a book of child-thought
and experience, full of insight and tenderness, revealing everywhere the
pathos of childhood.

Charles and Mary lived their childish days over again in these stories.
They forgot that as children they had not seen things in the same light.
They forgot (those days had been short for them) that children, however
precocious, are not concerned with their own thought-process, but
with life and movement and adventure. And so their stories are really
essays about children: essays that let the grown-up reader into some of
the little people’s secrets. If it were possible for children to see
themselves with the eyes of men and women, then _Mrs. Leicester’s School_
might be to them what the _Essays of Elia_ are to their parents. As it
is, no child could appreciate the irony of innocence which runs through
the book like a refrain.

A suggestion of Wordsworth, in the story of “Elizabeth Villiers”, can
hardly be accidental. The little girl has learnt to read from her
mother’s epitaph, and her sailor uncle, just home from sea, finds her in
the churchyard rehearsing her lesson.

“‘Who has taught you to spell so prettily, my little maid?’ ... ‘Mamma,’
I replied; for I had an idea that the words on the tombstone were somehow
a part of mamma, and that she had taught me.” The uncle, who knows
nothing of his sister’s death, asks for her and turns in the direction of
the house. “You do not know the way, I will show you,” says the child,
and she leads him to the grave.

There is a similar pathos, not less beyond the insight of most children,
in Elinor Forester’s account of her father’s wedding-day:

“When I was dressed in my new frock, I wished poor Mamma was alive to see
how fine I was on Papa’s wedding-day, and I ran to my favourite station
at her bedroom-door.”

But there is another motif in the book which, although its chief appeal
is to grown-up sympathies, might satisfy a child’s love of contrast
and surprise: the strangeness of familiar things; the romance of the

Emily Barton is a little Cinderella, carried off by her father (whom she
has forgotten) from the house of relations who have neglected her. A
postchaise takes the place of the pumpkin-coach, a new coat and bonnet do
humble duty for a ball-dress.

Thus equipped, she jumps into the chaise “_as warm and lively as a little
bird_”. Mary Lamb has a store of such tender phrases.

The home that most children take as a matter of course, is a palace of
delight to this little girl. Tea is a feast.

“Whenever I happen to like my tea very much, I always think of the
delicious cup of tea Mamma gave us after our journey.”

The father and mother, loved by other children without thought, are a
King and Queen of romance:

“Mamma, to my fancy, looked very handsome. She was very nicely dressed,
quite like a fine lady. I held up my head and felt very proud that I had
such a papa and mamma.”

A ride through the London streets becomes a royal progress. In her exile,
the child has had no toys: “the playthings were all the property of one
or other of my cousins”. Now she appreciates the joy of ownership. Not
toys alone, but little books are purchased, and by a mischievous turn,
Mr. Newbery’s old device is turned against his successors: “Shall we
order the coachman to the corner of St. Paul’s Churchyard, or shall we go
to the Juvenile Library in Skinner Street?”

This is far removed from the dramatic realism of the Edgeworth School. It
is the difference between the facts and the poetry of everyday life.

There is more poetry (but less that a child would take) in Charles Lamb’s
story of the little four-years-old girl in Lincolnshire and her “first
going to church”.

The house is too far from a village for the family to attend church,
until they are able to set up “a sort of carriage”. But the child is
attracted by “the fine music” from the bells of St. Mary’s, which they
sometimes hear in the air. “I had somehow conceived that the noise which
I heard was occasioned by birds up in the air, or that it was made by the
angels, whom (so ignorant I was till that time) I had always considered
to be _a sort of bird_.”

The bells calling Susan to church give the story a spiritualised
Whittington touch. The ride to church and the child’s first impressions
are wonderfully described.

“I was wound up to the highest pitch of delight at having visibly
presented to me the spot from which had proceeded that unknown friendly
music: and when it began to peal, just as we approached the village, it
seemed to speak _Susan is come_, as plainly as it used to invite me _to
come_, when I heard it over the moor.”

Here again, things that most children disregard, from thoughtless
familiarity, appear strange and delightful to the lonely child. “All was
new and surprising to me on that day; the long windows with little panes,
the pillars, the pews made of oak, the little hassocks for the people
to kneel on, the form of the pulpit with the sounding board over it,
gracefully carved in flower work.”

Akin to this is the theme of changed fortune: privileges only recognised
when lost. It is the moral (never pointed in these tales) of “Charlotte
Wilmot” and “The Changeling”. The child of the ruined merchant describes
her first night in the house of his poor clerk. The moon, often watched
in happier days, is now a symbol of misfortune:

“There was only one window in the room, a small casement, through which
the bright moon shone, and it seemed to me the most melancholy sight I
ever beheld.”

Poetry, not fact, is again the chief element in the story of the “little
Indian girl in a ship”. Her gentle, imaginative sailor-nurse gives her
no Natural History or Geography. He turns her thoughts to “the dolphins
and porpoises that came before a storm, and all the colours which the
sea changed to”; she is never troubled about the genus of the one or
the causes of the other. If Lamb had set down this sailor’s tales, as
no doubt he would have told them to a child, he could have made a real
children’s book, of “the sea monsters that lay hid at the bottom, and
were seldom seen by man; and what a glorious sight it would be, if our
eyes could be sharpened to behold all the inhabitants of the sea at once
swimming in the great deeps, as plain as we see the gold and silver fish
in a bowl of glass”.

In the same way a visit to the country is not made the subject of lessons
on rural occupations or botany. As a matter of fact, Grandmamma’s orchard
is a fairy place where pear-trees and cherry-trees blossom together, and
bluebells come out with daffodils. The profusion of these flowers and the
sound of their names might attract a child that yet would miss the best

“Sarah was much wiser than me, and _she taught me which to prefer_.... I
was very careful to love best the flowers which Sarah praised most, yet
sometimes, I confess, I have even picked a daisy, though I knew it was
the very worst flower, because it reminded me of London and the Drapers’

Here Mary might have aimed a gentle shaft at the hated instructive
writers, who taught children “which to prefer”; but there is no double
intention in Sarah.

Only one story, “The Changeling”, has really dramatic moments. There
is a miniature _Hamlet_ scene in this, a “little interlude” played by
children, which causes the wicked nurse to betray herself. A child
would enjoy it better than the _Tales from Shakespear_. But the little
girl who frightens herself into believing that her aunt is a witch is
best understood by readers of “Witches and Other Night-Fears”; little
Margaret, reading herself into Mahometism and a fever would be less
interesting to small folk than the book, _Mahometism Explained_, which
she found in the old library, “as entertaining as a fairy-tale”. The
humour is too subtle for children, they would enjoy the picture of Harlow
Fair better than that quaint account of the grave physician puzzled over
an extraordinary case, “he never having attended a little Mahometan

And so it is with the pictures of child-life. The grown-up reader has
the best memory for Emily Barton (very young indeed) at her first play.
Emily herself remembered that it was _The Mourning Bride_; but she was so
far confused between this “very moving Tragedy” and “the most diverting
Pantomime” which followed it, that she made a strange blunder the next

“I told Papa that Almeria was married to Harlequin at last, but I assure
you I meant to say Columbine, for I knew very well that Almeria was
married to Alphonso; for she said she was in the first scene.”

At the back of the grown-up mind, besides, there are pictures to help
in the reading. Charles and Mary, instead of Emily Barton, reading the
tomb-stones, looking up at the great iron figures of St. Dunstan’s
Church,[132] or talking over their first visit to Mackery End (too long
ago for Charles to remember); Mary at Blakesmoor with the old lady who
had “no other chronology to reckon by than in the recollection of what
carpet, what sofa cover, what set of chairs were in the frame at that
time”. Or John Lamb, the father, taking a walk to the Lincolnshire
village, “just to see how _goodness thrived_.”[133]

       *       *       *       *       *

Ann and Jane Taylor cherished ideals clearer and much simpler than
the Lambs. They had no tragedy to darken their youth; the struggle
with poverty (very real at first) was lightened by the cheerful
co-operation of a whole family. They were all engaged upon the father’s
craft of engraving; they all (father, brothers, sisters, even the
mother) wrote.[134] They were “directed” (a phrase of their own) by
an unquestioning religious faith which simplified and solved all
the problems of life. The narrowing influence of the village was
counteracted by breadth of intellect and by individual genius. There
was, of course, nothing to supply the generous education of London life,
or the exquisite literary discernment of the Lambs; but Jane Taylor
showed, even in her books for children, a power of enjoyment and a sense
of humour that is sometimes associated with intensely serious beliefs.
She was untouched by popular philosophy, and adhered to the literary
traditions of the school of Pope; but the world of the spirit was more
real to her than earth itself; her work has rare qualities of spiritual
insight and imagination.

This does not apply, of course, to the simple rhymes which were the
sisters’ first literary venture. Mary Lamb could make waistcoats while
she was “plotting new work to succeed the Tales”. The intricate process
of engraving demanded more attention. They were not free till eight
o’clock, and had household duties besides; but, as Ann says, “a flying
thought could be caught even in the midst of work, or a fancy ‘pinioned’
to a piece of waste paper.”

Some of the rhymes (there is more to be said of them) were written too
easily or too hastily to be of much account, but there are points in
favour of a method that makes writing a relaxation, and allows no time
for second thoughts.

The _Original Poems_[135] have a spontaneity and freshness that take a
small child at once. The sisters never lost the secret of writing for
children, because they could always think with them. Ann, the eldest,
had mothered the family, and afterwards brought up a family of her own;
yet she wrote at _eighty_: “The feeling of being a grown woman, to say
nothing of an _old_ woman, does not come naturally to me”.

Many writers (especially moralists) try to hold a child’s attention
beyond its power. Jane Taylor in this, as in other matters, understands
her audience.

“I try to conjure up some child into my presence, address her suitably,
as well as I am able, and when I begin to flag, I say to her, ‘_There,
love, now you may go_.’”

Jane was the genius of the family. “Dear Jane had no need to borrow, what
I could ill afford to lose,” said the gentle Ann, of some good thing
which had been attributed to her brilliant sister.

The habit of “castle-building” caused Jane many heart-searchings. She was
as stern with herself as Bunyan; she magnified all her little failings
(or supposed failings) into sins. “I know I have sometimes lived so much
in a _castle_ as almost to forget that I lived in a _house_, and while I
have been carefully arranging aerial matters _there_, have left all my
solid business in disorder _here_.”

It was absurd, of course, to accuse a Taylor of disorder; but the
distrust of imagination was characteristic. She valued imagination only
so far as it interpreted spiritual truth. The great difference between
Jane Taylor and the realists was that her reality had no connection with
materialism. To her, the life of the spirit was the greatest reality. A
thing was real or unreal according to its intrinsic worth. Her sharpest
satire was poured upon the material benevolence of philosophy, “_the
light of Nature-boasting man_”, or the poet who could

    “Pluck a wild Daisy, moralise on that
    And drop a tear for an expiring gnat.”

True benevolence, so her creed ran,

                “... rises energetic to perform
    The hardest task, or face the rudest storm.”

Duty and sacrifice are her watchwords. The search for happiness brings
only “The lessons taught at Disappointment’s knee.” Earth is wonderful,
but men misuse it, seeking worthless things in their madness; yet:

    “The soul—perhaps in silence of the night
    Has flashes, transient intervals of light;
    When things to come without a shade of doubt
    In terrible reality stand out.
    These are the moments when the mind is sane.”

_The Essays in Rhyme_[136] are for grown-up readers, but they state with
perfect clearness the ideals that inspired her work for children.

Under the pseudonym of “Q. Q.”, Jane Taylor contributed for six years to
the _Youths’ Magazine_,[137] and her best pieces (afterwards collected)
were “for children or men.”

“_The young are new to themselves; and all that surrounds them is novel._”

“Q. Q.” gives them short moral tales, full of point and humour: really
“entertaining” moral tales, and brilliant little character-studies. They
read, and begin to know themselves. She introduces them to “Persons
of Consequence” (one, “little Betsy Bond, daughter of John Bond, the
journeyman Carpenter”). She sets forth a contrast: the old Philosopher,
so wise that he is humble, and the Young Lady, just leaving School, who
considers herself “not only perfectly accomplished but also thoroughly
well-informed”; or the two brothers, one of whom writes a clever essay on
self-denial, while the other practises it. Youth is left to judge between

The most arresting of these “Contributions”, “How it strikes a Stranger”,
inspired Browning’s poem “The Star of my God Rephan.” A stranger from
another planet, finding himself upon Earth, is filled with interest and
wonder at what he sees. He enters readily into the pleasures of the new
life, and remains thoughtlessly happy till he is faced with the unknown
fact of death.

They refer him to the priests for an explanation.

“How!” he replies, “then I cannot have understood you; do the priests
only die? Are not you to die also?” When he understands, he regards
death as a privilege and refuses to do anything “inconsistent with his
_real interests_.” The Adventure is described with a wonderful force of
imagination; but the lesson strikes upon youthful ears like the voice in

    “Everyman, stand still. Whither art thou going,
    Thus gaily?”

Some, not yet ripe for this encounter, would turn for comfort to the
bright and imaginative “Life of a Looking Glass,” and revive their more
childish interest in the “adventures of things”.

The Glass, “being naturally of a reflecting cast,” would catch, but not
hold the restless attention of very little persons. It was for those past
the stage of actual belief in talking things, who came back to it with a
new perception of imaginative correspondences.

The tranquil passage of the story (so perfectly adapted to the “speaker”)
is broken now and then by a flash of wit. There is nothing extraordinary
about the incidents: that the writer admits; but she never fails “to give
the charm of novelty to things of everyday”, and chooses her pictures not
so much for moral ends as because they would be likely to persist among
the “reflections” of a looking-glass.

First, the large spider in the carver and gilder’s workshop “which,
after a vast deal of scampering about, began very deliberately to weave
a curious web” all over the face of the glass, affording it “great
amusement.” There is something in the responsive brightness of the
thing that gives immediate sanction to the idea of its being _amused_.
Then, the lively apprentice who gave it “a very significant look”, which
it took at the time for a compliment to itself. And then a succession
of images in quick movement reflected from a London Street. “The
good-looking people always seemed the best pleased with me”, it remarks,
with a sly gleam, “which I attributed to their superior discernment.”

After this, the scene changes to one of almost lifeless calm; the “best
parlour of a country house, whose Master and Mistress see no company
except at Fair time and Christmas Day.”

“Perhaps I should have experienced some dismay”, remarks the glass, “if I
could have known that I was destined to spent _fifty years_ in that spot.”

The younger the reader, the more endless such an interval would seem;
yet if any had patience to follow the tale at its own pace, they might
enjoy the fashion of that parlour: the old chairs and tables, the Dutch
tiles with stories in them, that surrounded the grate, and the pattern
of the paper hangings “which consisted alternately of a parrot, a poppy
and a shepherdess—a parrot, a poppy and a shepherdess”. The repeated
phrase suggests the length of days. “The room being so little used, the
window-shutters were rarely opened; but there were three holes cut in
each, in the shape of a heart, through which, day after day and year
after year, I used to watch the long dim dusty sunbeams streaming across
the dark parlour.”

Youth cannot wait for description, but these words translate themselves
into light and shade.

Here is the mistress of that parlour, ready dressed for church on a
Sunday morning, trotting in upon her high-heeled shoes, unfolding a
leaf of the shutters and standing straight before the looking-glass.
She turns half round to the right and left to see if the corner of her
well-starched kerchief is pinned exactly in the middle. The glass has
turned portrait painter. “I think I can see her now”, it says, “in her
favourite dove-coloured lustring (which she wore every Sunday in every
Summer for seven years at the least) and her long full ruffles and worked
apron”. Then follows the master, who, though his visit was somewhat
shorter, never failed to come and settle his Sunday wig before the glass.

Thus half a century goes by, with the imperceptible movement from youth
to age. The glass is reset in a gilt frame to suit the fashion of new
times; once more it reflects young faces and vibrates with the laughter
of youth.

Jane Taylor could be didactic on principle, but she was a true artist and
knew that virtue is best recommended by its visible effects.

The looking-glass, “incapable of misrepresentation,” cannot help
showing errors and vanities; but having acquired “considerable skill in
physiognomy”, discovers more than the mere outside. Its last study is
almost a “Character”:

“There was, of course, in a few years, some little alteration, but
although the bloom of youth began to fade, there was nothing less of
sweetness, cheerfulness and contentment in her expression. She retained
the same placid smile, the same unclouded brow, the same mildness in her
eye (though it was somewhat less sparkling) as when it first beamed upon
me ten years before.”

This is the Princess of the Moral Tale. She gives a last glance at the
looking-glass in her bridal dress, and leaves it to its memories.

“Sometimes my dear mistress’s favourite cat will steal in as though in
quest of her; leap up upon the table and sweep her long tail across my
face; then, catching a glimpse of me, jump down again and run out as
though she was frightened.”

There is no “moral”, only this epilogue in dumb-show to repeat the theme
of change.

The humour of the looking-glass has an undersense of pathos; but this
is not the pathos of _Mrs. Leicester’s School_. It would touch a child
directly, like a picture without words.

Books had no more to do with Jane Taylor’s love of Nature than with her
understanding of her fellow creatures. She looked out of a diamond-paned
window upon quiet Essex fields and “a tract of sky”.[138] The sky, always
the most beautiful thing in a flat country, was to her more productive
than the soil of the realists. But she loved gardens too, and caught the
individuality of flowers. Ann’s _Wedding Among the Flowers_[139] is less
amusing than Jane’s “fable” of the envious weed that shoots up till it
overtops the fence, and then, provoked by the beauty of the flowers in
the next garden, twists the chief beauty of each into a defect:

    “Well, ’tis enough to make one chilly
    To see that pale consumptive lily
        Among these painted folks.
    Miss Tulip, too, looks wondrous odd,
    She’s gaping like a dying cod;
    What a queer stick is Golden-Rod!
        And how the violet pokes!”

Flowers are _persons_ to Jane Taylor. She loves them as friends: “the
good, gay and well-dressed company which a little flower garden displays”.

“Science has succeeded to poetry,” said Lamb. Jane Taylor did not think
them incompatible. Her “old retired gentleman” could look at his garden
from two points of view:

    “a part of the pleasure which now in my old age I derive from
    my flowers arises, I am conscious, from the distant yet vivid
    remembrance they recall of similar scenes and pleasures of my
    childhood. My paternal garden seems still to me _like enchanted
    ground_, and its flowers like the flowers of Paradise. I shall
    never see the like again, vain as I am of my gardening! Those
    were _poetry_, these are botany!”[140]

Imaginative power in the Taylors illuminated their religious conceptions.
In Mrs. Sherwood,[141] it struggled against the formulæ of rigid
doctrine. From six to thirteen, she learned her lessons standing in
the stocks with an _iron collar_ round her neck. When it was taken off
(seldom, she says, till late in the evening), she would run for half a
mile through the woods, as if trying to overtake her lost playtime. It
says much for the quick recoveries of youth that she was a happy child.
Stanford Rectory, where she spent her “golden age”, was surrounded by
woods and hills that seem to have become a part of her before the iron
collar was imposed. She built huts and made garlands with her brother;
they acted fairy tales in the woods: tales of “dragons, enchanters and
queens”. She remembered her mother teaching them to read from “a book
where there was a picture of a white horse feeding by moonlight”, a print
of pure romance. She remembered the wonder-tales told on dark winter
evenings by “a person vastly pleasant to children” who came across the
park “in a great bushy wig, a shovel hat, and a cravat tied like King
William’s bib”.

And yet, when she began to write books for children, after some years of
married life in India, she put on an iron collar of her own accord, to
set forth the dire consequences of Original Sin. When (perhaps late in a
chapter) she took it off, her imagination could conjure up no fairies;
but working upon the memories of her own childhood, it brought life into
the tale.

Mrs. Sherwood wrote an extraordinary number of children’s books; many
were published by Houlston the Quaker as chap-books.[142] The sternest
and most uncompromising dogmatism cannot crush the life out of them,
nor weaken the vivid pictures they contain. Her first journey across
the hills to Lichfield, when she was a child of four, had made a deeper
impression on her mind than all her Indian travels. She had fresher
memories of the English hills than of “the Indian Caucasus hanging as
brilliant clouds on the horizon”. The quiet inland life that is the chief
matter of her autobiography[143] is reflected in most of her stories. She
is not concerned with any wider interests; great events pass unnoticed,
as they do in some nurseries; but whenever Mrs. Sherwood remembers her
Doctrines, she goes back to the Warnings and Examples of the seventeenth
century. There is a grim shadow on her nursery wall, and in the midst
of the most innocent employments, her little people shrink and cower.
This spectre stood over her when she tampered with a book which children
of all ages understand and enjoy. She accepted _The Pilgrim’s Progress_
as a part of her creed; her knowledge of it accounts for the fine
simplicity of her style. Yet in her _Infant’s Progress from the Valley
of Destruction to Everlasting Glory_,[144] there is not a giant nor a
castle to atone for her bane on “toys” which the strictest philosopher
would pass as harmless and instructive. Her poor little pilgrim suffers
a martyrdom of denial in a juvenile Vanity Fair:

“Then I saw that certain of these teachers of vanities came and spread
forth their toys before Humble Mind, to wit, pencils, and paints, maps
and drawings, _pagan poems_ and _fabulous histories_, musical instruments
of various kinds, with all the gaudy fripperies of modern learning.”

Some of these things had been the delight of Mrs. Sherwood’s youth; but
in her passion for dogma, she forgot the white horse and the fairy tales,
and persuaded herself that an iron collar was the only protection against

Her adaptation of Sarah Fielding’s _Governess_[145] shows the same
Puritan intolerance. The book had been in her own nursery library, along
with _Margery Two-Shoes_, _Robinson Crusoe_ and “two sets of fairy
tales.” Yet she expurgated all but one of the “moral” fairy tales allowed
by Mrs. Teachum, and inserted in their place “such appropriate relations
as seemed more likely to conduce to juvenile edification.”

It is likely (and for her children’s sake to be hoped) that Mrs.
Sherwood’s practice was kinder and more cheerful than her precepts. _The
Fairchild Family_,[146] the best known, and the best of her books, is
full of interest and reality; and in this, the setting is her home and
the persons are her own children.

To enjoy it, a child must skip solid pages of doctrine, and would do well
besides to skip most of the stories read by the Fairchild Family out of
little gilt books which “the good-natured John” brought them from the

These were chap-books, but of a sort only less forbidding than those the
pedlar carried in Puritan days. John gave the largest to Lucy and the
other to Emily. “‘Here is two pennyworth, and there is three pennyworth,’
said he.

‘My book,’ said Emily, ‘is the History of the _Orphan Boy_![147], and
there are a great many pictures in it; the first is the picture of a

‘Let me see, let me see!’ said Henry, ‘_oh, how pretty!_’”

Late editors flinch at the inhumanity of the punishments, and usually
omit the gibbet story which, at the outset, throws a horrible shadow
on the book. There has been a quarrel in the nursery; the children are
penitent, they have been forgiven; but Mr. Fairchild deems it necessary
to give them a concrete illustration of the fate of one who has failed
to control his passions. He takes them to “Blackwood” (so far off that
little Henry has to be carried) and shows them the body of a murderer
hanging from a gibbet. “_The face of the corpse was so shocking that the
children could not look upon it_”.

It is to be supposed that children who survived this kind of treatment
could be happy, since there was little left to excite their terror.
Henry, when he steals a forbidden apple, is threatened with fire and
brimstone and locked up in a dark room. The very frightfulness of all
this would defeat its end, for if a child could live through it, and look
up the next morning at an unclouded sky, or take his part in the cheerful
concerns of men, the thing would come, in time, to have no meaning for
him. It is clear that this happened with the Fairchild Family. They act
and talk (save when they are made the mouthpieces of older persons)
like healthy and ordinary children. They even dare to be naughty in an
ordinary way. No sooner are Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild called away from
home, than original sin begins to assert itself. This chapter is “_On the
Constant Bent of Man’s Heart towards Sin_”.

Emily and Lucy play in bed instead of getting up: “Emily made babies of
the pillows, and Lucy pulled off the sheets and tied them round her, in
imitation of Lady Noble’s long-trained gown.” There is no encouragement
for the dramatic games of children, any more than for dancing, in Mrs.
Sherwood’s books.

Then Henry announces hot buttered toast for breakfast; they hurry down
“without praying, washing themselves, combing their hair, making their
bed, or doing any one thing they ought to have done.”

After breakfast they take out their books, but they have eaten so much
that they “cannot learn with any pleasure”. A quarrel is checked by
Henry’s discovery of a little pig in the garden. The three at once give
chase. Another “juvenile” _Pilgrim’s Progress_, this:

“Now, there was a place where a spring ran across the lane, over which
was a narrow bridge, for the use of people walking that way. Now the pig
did not stand to look for the bridge, but went splash, splash, through
the midst of the water; and after him went Henry, Lucy and Emily, though
they were up to their knees in mud and dirt.” Mrs. Sherwood had caught
the live clearness of Bunyan’s pictures.

A neighbour (one of the unregenerate, whom the children have been
forbidden to visit) kindly dries their clothes; she also regales them
with cider, “and as they were never used to drink anything but water, it
made them quite tipsy for a little while.”

The good-natured John, discovering their condition, calls them “naughty
rogues”. He gives them dinner and ties them to their chairs, but
afterwards relents and allows them to play in the barn, where he thinks
they can do no more mischief. Here they let down a swing which they are
only supposed to play with when Papa is present; Emily falls out of it
and narrowly escapes being killed.

At this point Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild quite unexpectedly come home. The
children fall upon their knees and fade once more into unreality.

Thus Mrs. Sherwood replaces the iron collar after her bursts of freedom.
It is hardly a disguise. It does not change her personality, it simply
keeps her rigid.

Even Mrs. Fairchild had enjoyed some interludes; but that was when she
was little and naughty. She actually confessed to her Family that “a
little girl employed about the house” had tempted her on one occasion _to
climb a cherry-tree_.

Afterwards her aunts talked to her whilst she cried very much. “Think
of the shame and disgrace”, said they, “of climbing trees in such low
company, after all the care and pains we have taken and the delicate
manner in which we have reared you!”

But she also remembered and quoted the words of that “little girl
employed about the house”:

“Oh, Miss, Miss! I can see from where I am all the town and both the
churches, and here is such plenty of cherries! Do come up!”

This is a prose foretaste of _The Child’s Garden_.



    Life at Edgeworthstown—Educational adventures—_Practical
    Education_—First stories—_The Parent’s Assistant_—New
    elements—“Waste Not, Want Not”: the Geometric
    plot—“Little plays”—Settings of the tales—Practical
    interests—Characters—“Little touches”—_Early Lessons_—“The
    Purple Jar”—_Harry and Lucy_—“Nonsense in season”—_Moral
    Tales_—Qualities of Miss Edgeworth’s tales—“_La triste
    utilité_”—The Edgeworth fairy—Dr. Johnson as the fairies’
    champion—Miss Edgeworth and her predecessors—The magic of
    science and life.

Maria Edgeworth was sixteen years old when her father brought her to his
Irish estate of Edgeworthstown.[148] Her childhood had been full of quiet
preoccupations, and it argues much for the impersonal methods of Mr. Day
that, although he had grounded her in Rousseau’s theory, she was in no
way dominated by it.

At Edgeworthstown, her ideas were brought into wholesome touch with
reality. The life was almost adventurous after those quiet years in
Oxfordshire and London. Her father gave her a real share in managing the
estate and she was soon acquainted with many sides of Irish character;
but all her affections and interests were centred in the family, and in
this lay the secret of her power as a writer of children’s books.

Mr. Edgeworth had brought up his eldest boy upon Rousseau’s exact plan,
a more unfortunate experiment than Mr. Day’s; for this child of Nature
would neither teach himself nor learn from others; but his brothers and
sisters gained more than he lost by it: the system was modified for
them, and Emile’s solitary employments found a place among the cheerful
occupations of a big family.

The children were so happy and so busy that Mr. Edgeworth could say in a
letter to Dr. Darwin:

“I do not think one tear per month is shed in this house, nor the voice
of reproof heard, nor the hand of restraint felt”.

He encouraged Maria to record their educational adventures, and her own
translation of _Adèle et Théodore_[149] may have suggested the idea of a
book. The two volumes of _Practical Education_, published in 1798, with
the names of Richard Lovell and Maria Edgeworth on the title page, mark
the beginning of the long partnership which she called “the joy and pride
of my life”.

What her books might have been without her father’s influence may be
conjectured from what they are; this is truer of the children’s books
than of the novels. She had no need of theory. Clear intelligence, warm
and ready sympathies, carried her straight to the centres of childish
thought. A little brother, Henry, had been her especial charge, and from
him she learned what might have escaped her in the general business of
the family.

She scribbled her first stories on a slate, read them to the children
and altered them to suit their taste. Those they liked best were
printed in 1796 at Mr. Edgeworth’s suggestion,[150] and when the little
outside public called for more, fresh stories were produced on the same
co-operative plan and published in the six volumes of 1800.

“The stories are printed and bound the same size as _Evenings at Home_,”
wrote Miss Edgeworth to her cousin (Feb. 27, 1796), “but I am afraid you
will dislike the title; my father had sent _The Parent’s Friend_, but Mr.
Johnson has degraded it into _The Parent’s Assistant_, which I dislike
particularly from association with an old book of Arithmetic called _The
Tutor’s Assistant_.”

There is Geometry, if not Arithmetic, in the book. The pattern is
symmetrical: the tales are constructed to fit the morals; but the
Edgeworths recognised the chief faults of didactic books for children,
and made the first definite attempt to deal with them.

“To prevent the precepts of morality from tiring the ear and the mind”,
says Mr. Edgeworth in the preface, “it was necessary to make the stories
in which they are introduced in some measure dramatic; to keep alive hope
and fear and curiosity by some degree of intricacy.”

This is the best that can be done where the moral is so explicit; and
the device of intricacy serves to divert attention from a too exact
correspondence between cause and effect.

In Miss Edgeworth’s clear and well-ordered world the results of choice
and action are inevitable; but her plots (she was the pioneer of plot in
children’s books) involve a puzzle, and in the solution there is always
an element of surprise.

That Bristol merchant in “Waste Not, Want Not,”[151] who invited his two
nephews to stay with him, in order to decide which of them he should
adopt, bears more than a chance resemblance to Mr. Day. If the two boys
had been girls, the story might have been his own; but in literature, as
in life, Mr. Day was prone to digress; he never could have followed the
relentless order of events from the untying of the two parcels by Hal and
Benjamin (the Merton and Sandford of this drama) to its logical result.
There is a cumulative fatality about this which puts it beyond question.

No sooner has the inconsequent Hal watched the careful untying of Ben’s
parcel, and cut the whipcord of his own “precipitately in sundry places”
than the uncle gives them each a top.

“And now” (a child never could resist the interruption). “And now, _he
won’t have any string for his top_!”

The improvident one, however, finds a way out by spinning it with his
hat-string (the consequence of this is deferred); and then, after
whipping the banisters aimlessly with the cut string, drops it upon
the stairs. Little Patty, his cousin, running downstairs with his
pocket-handkerchief (which he is in too desperate a hurry to fetch
himself), falls down a whole flight of stairs; and the assiduous Ben,
hunting for her lost shoe, finds it _sticking in a loop of whipcord_.

For a time, the string theme is allowed to drop, but it comes up again as
a chief agent of the catastrophe. Hal, on his way to the Archery-meeting
stoops to pick up his ball and loses his hat. (“The string, as we may
recollect, our wasteful hero had used in spinning his top”.). Running
down the hill after it, he falls prostrate in his green and white uniform
into a treacherous bed of red mud, and becomes the laughing-stock of his

Last and bitterest of all, he sees his prudent cousin replace a cracked
bow-string and win the contest by drawing from his pocket “an excellent
piece of whipcord”. Not a reader but echoes, with additions, the
unfortunate Hal’s exclamation: “_The everlasting whipcord, I declare!_”

This single strand goes in and out with the shuttle-motion of a nursery

    _This is the string that Hal cut._
    _These are the Stairs_
    _That lay under the String_
    _That Hal cut._
    _This is the Child_
    _That fell over the Stairs—etc._

With it are interwoven character-incidents that echo the title-motto and
harp on the note of Rousseau and Henry Brooke: the choice of the two boys
between a warm great-coat and a green and white uniform, which culminates
with perfect logic in Ben’s loan of the despised coat to cover Hal’s
spoilt finery; and the minor choice between queen-cakes and keeping one’s
halfpence to give to a beggar.

It is the strong point of Miss Edgeworth’s contrasts that her bad
children are never attractive, and her good ones hardly ever impossible.

Hal is no villain; but there is no glamour about his naughtiness: he
is greedy and boastful as well as improvident; a child is not moved to
emulate him. The real villains are dishonest or cruel or insolent, never
simply thoughtless or self-willed.

But the good children are a positive triumph. Only Miss Edgeworth could
make a boy live that untied knots to save string, chose an overcoat
instead of a gay uniform and had money to spare for good works. This Ben
is as natural as his pleasure-loving cousin.

The moral, for all its insistence, never hides a picture: the house, the
Bristol streets and shops, the scene in the Cathedral, where they listen
to a robin that has lived there for so many years; and Ben and his uncle
admire the stained-glass windows, but Hal looks bored. These are drawn to
the life.

“_Cannot one see a uniform and a Cathedral both in one morning?_”

Every other boy in the Edgeworth family was a Ben, and would endorse this
catholicity of interest.

It is odd that Miss Edgeworth’s “little plays”[152] should be among the
least dramatic of her works. They were, in fact, stories dramatised to
fit the family “_théâtre d’éducation_,” and the dramatist, intent upon
her lesson, trusted her little company to create their parts. The link
with Madame de Genlis is of the slightest, for although the Edgeworth
children were being educated more or less upon the model of St. Leu,
their plays and stories were not in the least like any that Madame de
Genlis had written.

To Miss Edgeworth, truth was the first law of writing, and she must have
felt the want of sincerity that came between Madame de Genlis and her

Her own stories are essentially dramatic; there is life in every word
of dialogue,—but the characters need no artificial light. A painted
background was a poor substitute for her usual settings, villages that
rang with the sounds of honest labour, fields and orchards full of
children: a realist’s Arcadia.

The little town of Somerville (in “The White Pigeon”), which in a few
years had “assumed the neat and cheerful appearance of an English
village”, is in fact a picture of Edgeworthstown. It is only when the
writer allows her characters to stray outside the bounds of her own
knowledge that the scenery begins to shake. Her school stories would
hardly convince an outsider;[154] the Neapolitan setting of “The Little
Merchants” is ludicrously out of keeping with so moral a community.

But all this is nothing to a child. His interest centres round the
objects that make pictures in the mind, the business he can imitate.

Berquin understood the practical interests of children, but he had not
Miss Edgeworth’s keen eye for things that “draw”. The purple jar in the
chemists’ window, the coloured sugar-plums of the little merchants, the
green and white uniform. Berquin’s children were never so independent
as these. His orphans were adopted; Miss Edgeworth’s keep house by
themselves in a ruined castle, and ply their trades of knitting and
spinning and shoe-making with the rhythm of a singing game. The finding
of a treasure among the ruins is a freak of romance that holds the
imagination even while the coins are being weighed and marked.

Goody Grope, the old treasure-seeker who demands her share of the
orphans’ luck, is the only Irish study, but other characters would
connect these stories, if they were not so frankly acknowledged, with the
author of _Castle Rackrent_ and _The Absentee_: Mrs. Pomfret, that lesser
Malaprop, with her “_Villaintropic Society_” and “_drugs and refugees_”;
Mrs. Theresa Tattle; Mademoiselle Panache, the milliner-governess,
betrayed by her mouthful of pins.

Emma and Helen Temple,[155] drawn without reference to a System, and left
to develop each in her own way, would pass for sedate and early types of
“Sense and Sensibility”; it pleased Miss Edgeworth the better that she
could allow a measure of sense to Sensibility.

She has many variants of these types: the wise sister and playful
brother; the well-informed brother with a thoughtless sister, the wise
or thoughtless one with a foolish or a prudential family. Not one of
them is quite like any other. Nobody could mistake Laura, Rosamond’s
good sister[156] for the equally sensible Sophy, sister to Frederick and

Rosamond, with her filigree basket, would have repeated the lesson of
Charlotte and the watch, but unlike Charlotte, she made the useless
thing as a birthday present for somebody else. The worst that can be
said of Miss Edgeworth’s young people is that they sometimes (from the
very reasonableness of their up-bringing) assume an attitude of “civil
contempt” towards ordinary folk. They understand too soon the dangers
that arise in education from a bad servant or a silly governess, and
are too fond of arguments and encyclopædias. These are annoying traits
in otherwise natural and pleasant persons, for although they are prigs
in matters of knowledge or conscience, they have a very sound sense of
values and can even be merry when it is not unreasonable to laugh.

Sir Walter Scott said that Miss Edgeworth was “best in the little
touches.”[158] Children always find this out. They love the robin that
sings in the Cathedral, the child that shared her bread and milk with the
pig, the “little breathless girl” who ran back to thank Simple Susan for
the double cowslips and violets, crying, “_Kiss me quick, for I shall be
left behind_.”

The smallest parts are played in character, in spite of the didactic
purpose and the clock-work plot. This story of “Simple Susan” is not
unlike a Kilner pastoral; but the colours are fresher, the lines more

“When the little girl parts with her lamb” said Scott, “and the little
boy brings it back to her, there is nothing for it but just to put down
the book and cry.”

But perhaps his great love of children made him read more pathos into the
story than is actually there. Few readers cry over these tales. They
reflect the temper of the Edgeworth family.

_Early Lessons_[159] records the schooling of these children. Maria had
scarcely discovered “the warmth and pleasure of invention” when her
father recalled her to the Schoolroom. She set about straightening her
bright intricate patterns to make reading books for the little ones, much
as Dr. Primrose’s daughters cut up their trains into Sunday waistcoats
for Dick and Bill.

To turn from the _Parent’s Assistant_ to _Early Lessons_ is to agree with
Byron that there ought to have been a Society for the Suppression of Mr.

And yet there is something to be said for these chosen and deliberate
little scenes. Acquaintance prospers where there is no plot-interest
to engross attention. The “little boy whose name was Frank” steps as
naturally into the story as he would into a familiar room. He is so
obviously a real little boy that it is even possible to believe in his

“When his father or mother said to him, ‘Frank, shut the door,’ he ran
directly and shut the door. When they said to him ‘Frank, do not touch
that knife,’ he took his hands away from the knife, and did not touch it.
He was an obedient little boy.”

There is something arresting in this.

Frank’s doings and his sayings are a model of simplicity; but nobody
could say of him what Charles Lamb said of Mrs. Barbauld’s little boys.
As surely as any critic is disposed to laugh at Frank, he finds himself
watching with involuntary interest while Frank pulls the leg of the
table, and finds out what would have happened to the tea-cups if he had
not been such “an obedient little boy”. His adventures, moreover, are
not all among the tea-cups. He is interested in a carpenter and in
kites, and he has a more than usually good eye for a horse. What really
distresses the reader is that he is never allowed out of school; his
most casual experience contributes to his mental and moral advancement.
Chestnuts, glow-worms, the flame of a candle and other enchanting things
are impounded for object lessons. Frank’s father and mother are his
tutor and governess; the only poetry they mete out to him comes from Dr.
Darwin’s _Botanic Garden_[160], and is “correlated” to Natural History;
and after that it has to be explained. For when Dr. Darwin sings of a
moth’s “trunk”, little Frank understands by that “a sort of box”; when
his mother repeats:

    “Alight, ye beetles, from your airy rings”,

he asks (not without reason) “What does that mean, mamma?” But the
explanation would have come without asking. The Governess is giving a
lesson, the tutor is at her elbow; and because you should never laugh in
lessons, it is all rather serious.

But here, as in every school, are the children; the rest hardly counts.
Here, for example, when a child has made friends with Frank, is Rosamond,
who will make him forget all these lessons.

Readers of _The Parent’s Assistant_ had met her before, with a filigree
basket. Here she is again, “about seven years old”, walking with her
mother in the London streets, a very figure of childhood.

The mother disposes one by one of her bright interests: The toys (“_all_
of them”), the roses in the milliner’s window, the “pretty baubles” in
the jeweller’s shop. And then:

“‘Oh mother! oh!’ cried she, pulling her mother’s hand; ‘Look, look!
blue, green, red, yellow and purple! O mamma, what beautiful things!
Won’t you buy some of these?’” (It was a chemist’s shop, but Rosamond did
not know that.)

Her mother answered, as before:

“What use would they be of to me, Rosamond?” It is the purple jar that
takes the child’s fancy. Driven to invent a _use_ for it, she thinks she
could use it for a flower pot, but that was no part of her desire.

The story of Rosamond and the Purple Jar was meant to celebrate the usual
triumph of the Perfect Parent; but every child knows it is Rosamond who
triumphs; and this is the point where the Perfect Parent makes her first
mistake. She does not warn Rosamond, she only _hints_:

“Perhaps, if you were to see it nearer, if you were to examine it, you
might be disappointed”.

Now, Frank had his chance. They took away the tea-cups before he let down
that table-leaf. But nobody helps Rosamond. The little reader follows,
in close sympathy, as she goes on unwillingly, keeping her head turned
“to look at the purple Vase till she could see it no longer”. And as she
goes, it transpires that her shoes “are quite worn out”. That it should
come to this, points to some pre-arrangement by the Perfect Parent. The
occasion presents a unique opportunity for choice:

“Well, which would you rather have, that jar or a pair of shoes?” The
parental Economist cannot buy both; she makes Rosamond understand that
she will not have another pair of shoes that month.

Thus the purple jar repeats the theme of the filigree basket and the
green and white uniform.

What Rosamond was never told, and what she could not reasonably have
been expected to deduce, was that the beautiful purple colour was not
in the glass. A child cannot forgive injustice; all Rosamond’s friends
(and all children are her friends) cry out that it “wasn’t fair”. They
all say, “She wouldn’t have chosen the jar if she had _known_”; and
they are right. But the story goes on relentless. Rosamond, sweet and
unquestioning, survives the whole painful experience and hopes at the end
of it that she will be “wiser another time”; but the Perfect Parent has
lost all the prestige she ever had with children. She lost it before her
callous and unintelligent question, “Why should you cry, my dear?” But
that sealed her fate.

“I _love_ Rosamond”, said a little twentieth-century girl, not long ago,
“but, oh, how I _hate_ that mother!”

Miss Edgeworth drew none of her portraits from a single original; but she
often sat to herself for some part of them, and at least one likeness was
recognised by the family. Writing in her sixtieth year to her aunt, of
the “great progress” she is resolved to make, she adds: “‘_Rosamond at
sixty_,’ says Margaret.”

       *       *       *       *       *

_Harry and Lucy_, begun by Mr. Edgeworth and continued at intervals with
Maria’s help, was finished by her in 1825[161]. The four volumes, she
says, complete the series of “Early Lessons”, in which Harry and Lucy had
already figured; but although her drawings of the two children add colour
to the book, it is really an oblation, on Mr. Edgeworth’s behalf, to the
Giant Instruction.

At this stage, it is true, there is a laboratory as well as a museum in
the giant’s castle; he can illustrate the marvels of steam and suggest
experiments with electricity. Yet this is only a more practical Circle
of the Sciences. The children’s voices are trained to the question
and answer of a “Guide to Knowledge”; their lives are marked off in
lesson-periods. Even when a dull journey offers the means of escape,
these little captives hug their chains. They never travel without books,
and when there is nothing to observe from the carriage windows, they
find education in the forests of the Oroonoko, where the plague of flies
affords “an inexhaustible subject of conversation.”

The “Grand Panjandrum” could never come better than into this juvenile

Mr. Foote’s “droll nonsense” pleases Miss Edgeworth chiefly because it
was invented to test a man’s memory; yet she can tolerate nonsense, at
any rate when there is no danger of its being confused with sense.

They are all there: “the Picninnies and the Joblillies and the Garyulies,
and the Grand Panjandrum himself with the little round button at top.”
Lucy laughs and enjoys it, Harry calls it “horrible nonsense”; but their
father’s opinion is final, and Miss Edgeworth agrees with him:

“It is sweet to talk nonsense in season. Always sense would make Jack a
dull boy.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The didactic purpose, which hampers the story-teller at every turn,
becomes more irksome as an audience passes from childhood into youth.
Fixed patches of light and shade appear unnatural; the critical eyes of
youth are open to devices that passed unnoticed in the nursery.

Miss Edgeworth’s _Moral Tales_, “for young people of a more advanced
age”,[163] followed Marmontel into his own province; but Marmontel drew
his lessons from the world as he found it; Miss Edgeworth fits her world
to her father’s theories.

Here again she has admirable portraits: the Quixotic Forester, a new and
convincing likeness of Thomas Day; Angelina, that mirror of “romantic
eccentricities”; Mademoiselle Panache, little changed since her first
appearance, but here balanced by a “good French Governess”. The
unconscious satire of Lady Catherine is twice barbed:

“I don’t want to trouble you to alter his habits or to teach him
chemistry or _any of those things_.”

Yet here, as in _Early Lessons_, the persons walk gingerly, after the
manner of Berquin’s little boy who kept the skirts of his coat under his
arms, “for fear of doing any damage to the flowers”. The paths of the
Edgeworth garden are purposely narrowed that their doings may “neither
dissipate the attention nor inflame the imagination.”

Miss Edgeworth’s books fitted into her busy life as a natural occupation
for long evenings. She wrote in the common sitting-room with the family
about her, not one of them under any constraint, but talking freely, as
if she had been sewing instead of novel-writing. It was characteristic of
her that she could turn to children’s books in the midst of the Defender
troubles. An Irish rising claimed no more attention than the play and
laughter of the children. She could refer to it in a letter, and pass
on to the next domestic detail without wasting a moment in “useless
reflection”. That is precisely the mood of her stories. The _Moral
Tales_, addressed to an emotional age, do not merely ignore the common
forms of “Sensibility”; they take no account whatever of the stronger
affections and more vigorous manifestations of life: a thing scarcely
tolerable to generous youth. In the nursery books, this equanimity has
its uses. It enables her to deal with one thing at a time, to select from
a mass of details the particular things that a child would waste time in
choosing. Nothing worries or puzzles her; she sees the world in clear
and simple pictures, and reduces the inconsequent thoughts of children to
a relentless order.

Her little figures stand out in firm outline and bright colour, and the
background is interesting chiefly as it gives occupation or the means of

Madame de Staël was thinking of the _Tales of Fashionable Life_, when she

“_Vraiment Miss Edgeworth est digne de l’enthousiasm; mais elle se
perd dans votre triste utilité_”[164]. But it is not less true of the
children’s books.

Flowers in Miss Edgeworth’s garden (she is a true lover of flowers) are
beautiful symbols of human care and industry; but they never encroach
upon vegetables.

Rosamond was a rebel. “Mustard-seed, compared with pinks, carnations,
sweet-peas or sweet-williams, did not quite suit Rosamond’s fancy.”[165]

Miss Edgeworth had chosen those flowers for Rosamond, but the Perfect
Parent knew better. When the sweet thing planned a labyrinth of Crete
“to go zig-zag—zig-zag” through one of her borders, she was reasoned out
of it for the sake of some little green things that were going to be
mignonette, and when she and Godfrey were thinking of digging a pond, a
shocked voice cried:

“What! in the midst of your fine bed of turnips?”

Romance dies hard; but the odds were against Rosamond:

“And now, Mamma, _lay out_ my garden for me, as Godfrey says, exactly to
your own taste; and I will alter it all to-morrow to please you.” This
would be Emily and her mother over again, if it were not so like Maria
and her father.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dealing with a criticism by her cousin, Colonel Stuart, Miss Edgeworth
wrote: “I _know_ I feel how much _more is to be done, ought to be done_,
by suggestion than by delineation, by creative fancy than by facsimile
copying”; but she wisely stuck to her own method. It is where she touches
the magic circle that she is “spell-stopp’d.” When Laura reads the
fairy-tale to Rosamond (she is only allowed _one_), her passage into an
unreasonable world is marked by a change of diction. The Edgeworth fairy
is “inexpressibly elegant”; her flowing robe is “tinctured with all the
variety of colours that it is possible for nature or art to conceive”.
But there is nothing supernatural about her. She is merely a new specimen
for the Museum, to be “contemplated with attention”, like the others. The
result, recorded in a scientific note, proves her a creature of flesh and

“Small though she was, I could distinguish every fold in her garment,
nay, even _every azure vein that wandered beneath her snowy skin_.”

Dr. Johnson and Miss Edgeworth took opposite sides on this question of
the supernatural; and since experience proves that both were right, both
must have been wrong.

Mr. Edgeworth attacked the Doctor’s belief that “babies do not want to
hear about babies”, and Maria proved it a fallacy; but neither disposed
of his claim for “somewhat which can stretch and stimulate their little

Mr. Edgeworth’s questions are not arguments: “why should the mind be
filled with fantastic visions, instead of useful knowledge? Why should so
much valuable time be lost? Why should we vitiate their taste and spoil
their appetite, by suffering them to feed upon sweetmeats?”[166]

Dr. Johnson could have answered him, and perhaps Mr. Edgeworth knew it,
for he adds:

“_It is to be hoped that the magic of Dr. Johnson’s name will not have
power to restore the reign of fairies._”

There was no great danger, so long as Miss Edgeworth upheld the republic
of common sense; but when at last she laid down her pen, all the spirits
whose existence she had denied rose up and denounced her ineffectual

Thus she brings the first century of children’s books to a natural close.
She gathers up the loose ends of the old stories and weaves them into a
bright and symmetrical design. The pattern is not wholly original: it was
set by Marmontel, followed by Berquin, attempted by Madame de Genlis and
the English Rousseauists; but Miss Edgeworth brought it to perfection,
expressing traditional themes in terms of reason and benevolence.

The dramatic realism which marks her stories was the keynote of English
ballads and folk-tales; she found a substitute for romance in the
wonders of science. Roger Bacon, that wizard of the chap-books, appears
as a forerunner of the Royal Society. Harry and Lucy know him as the
discoverer of gunpowder, the inventor of the camera obscura, the prophet
of flying-machines.[167]

In Miss Edgeworth’s tales, science has not merely succeeded to poetry; it
has changed the enchanter’s instruments. The Balloon is the new Pegasus,
or the Flying Horse of the Arabian Tales; the Magician still cries “New
lamps for old;” but it is Davy’s lamp that he carries.

Rosamond, when she cannot explore the India Cabinet, is encouraged
to look for wonderful things in her own house; which indeed was Miss
Edgeworth’s own practice. Her “Enchanted Castle” was the home of her
aunt, Mrs. Ruxton,[168] and Aboulcasem’s treasure was not more marvellous
to her than a friend’s “inexhaustible fund of kindness and generosity.”

With the Lilliputians she had more in common than she would have

“When I was a child,” wrote Mr. Edgeworth in the third volume of
_Early Lessons_, “I had no resource but Mr. Newbery’s little books and
Mrs. Teachum.”[169] He is too conscious of the superiority of the new
children’s books to do justice to Mistress Two-Shoes; yet she, with her
little scholars and her weather-glass, was Miss Edgeworth’s Lilliputian
prototype. Simple Susan could have compared notes with little Two-Shoes
upon good and bad landlords, and in some of Miss Edgeworth’s stories
there are prudential maxims that recall _Giles Gingerbread_ and _Primrose

Some of Rosamond’s features may be traced in the portraits by Miss
Fielding, the Kilners and Mary Lamb. The quaint miniature of Goody
Two-Shoes has the same grave intelligent look. If this little person, so
wholly unconscious of her charm, can be regarded as an English type, then
Emilie could not have been altogether French.

Like Madame d’Epinay, Miss Edgeworth let Rousseau’s lifeless image of the
parent or tutor stand between her and her readers. They listened to the
talk of other children, but seldom heard her voice. “Little touches” in
the _Letters_[170] would have made them better acquainted, for here she
spoke freely, showing both tenderness and humour, making adventures of
common incidents,—a journey or a visit to friends.

“I nearly disgraced myself”, she wrote, after a visit to Cambridge,[171]
“as the company were admiring the front of Emmanuel College, by looking
at a tall man stooping to kiss a little child.”

This betrays her attitude to art and life.

If she never understood the “fairy Way of Writing”, it was because
she had built a school upon the fairy circles of her village green.
Her children were so happy in and about the village that they never
discovered an enchanted wood. They planted trees instead of climbing
them; they knew all the roads to Market, but nobody showed them the way
to Fairyland.

When at last the “reign of fairies” was restored, children burst into
an unknown world of adventure and poetry. Ever since that little boy of
Shenstone’s suffered for love of St. George, the fairies have fought shy
of schools. It remains to be seen whether they will hold their own with
modern pedagogues; but they are still in league with the poets, and the
understanding between them is this: that the child, once having tasted
fairy bread, can spend but half his time upon solid earth. The rest he
must have in the Land of Dreams.



    _The Spectator_ on Gardens—“Cones, Globes, and Pyramids”—Good
    counsels in rhyme—Verse in the Schoolroom—Didactic rhymes—Dr.
    Watts’s _Divine and Moral Songs_—_Puerilia; or, Amusements
    for the Young; Gammer Gurton’s Garland_ and _Songs for the
    Nursery_—The Sublime Truant—Rules and prescriptions—_Original
    Poems for Infant Minds_—The old garden and the new—Jane
    Taylor’s verses—_Poetry for Children_, by Charles and Mary
    Lamb—_The Butterfly’s Ball_ and other festivals—Miss Turner’s
    cautionary rhymes—“Edward, or Rambling Reasoned on”—The triumph
    of nonsense and rhythm.

“I think there are as many Kinds of Gardening as of Poetry”, wrote the
Spectator. His own garden ran into the “beautiful Wildness of Nature”; he
valued it more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very
frankly gave them fruit for their songs.[172]

Nature, regarded as a landscape gardener of more than ordinary skill,
was even allowed to work under authority in the domain of poetry; but
she neglected one corner of it, and there the trees were still clipped
after the old fashion into “Cones, Globes, and Pyramids.” This little
fenced-off portion was the eighteenth century Child’s Garden of Verses.
The only way out of it was by a narrow gate in the midst of a Yew hedge,
and of this only good nurses kept the key.

In the lane outside, the pedlar hawked his wares; the old ballads could
still be heard, the seven lamps of enchantment burnt bright at nightfall.

But inside the garden there were curious knots, with flowers of the older
sort and fragrant herbs. As time went on, some of the trees were allowed
to grow as they would; the open country could be seen through gaps in
the hedge, and the children began to make friends with travellers upon
the road.

Good counsels had run into rhyme from the beginning, that they might
hang together among wandering thoughts. Thus might the _Whole Duty of a
Child_ be remembered.[173] It gave, in short couplets, without figure,
all the matter of later exemplary and cautionary verse; and since the
lines were spoken in the person of the counsellor, there was a certain
dramatic interest added; for he that repeated the lines assumed the part
of Monitor.

This is one of the secrets of a child’s pleasure in didactic rhymes.
School, dull enough in itself, becomes a live thing the moment it passes
into the world of make-believe, and words of caution and authority are a
delight when spoken in character.

Pedagogues and guardians of youth discovered in rhythm and rhyme a means
of teaching facts otherwise unrelated. Emblem writers, feeling the
weakness of their strained symbolism, clutched eagerly at an effectual
prop. Emblems without verses had some measure of attraction, for if no
natural correspondence seemed to exist between a hypocrite and a frog,
or between an egg and a Christian,[174] the things had an interest of
their own, and excited curiosity as to possible connections; but without
rhymes, it would have been impossible to pair them aright.

Verse, brought as an accessory into school, twinkled a small mirror
of imagination. Figures lurked in the letters of the alphabet; rhymed
riddles were to be had for the piecing together of syllables. _A Little
Book for Little Children_ (1702)[175] had these elements of interest;
_The Child’s Week’s Work_[176] was further lightened by a wide
uncurtained schoolroom window, set so low that very small persons could
stand a-tiptoe, and get new lessons from the creatures of earth and air.
The very moderation of the writer invites acceptance:

    “Come, take this Book
    Dear Child, and look
      On it awhile and try
    What you can find
    To please your Mind;
      _The Rest you may pass by_.”

But most of it is too good to pass by; the moral is lost in little
phrases of real music, albeit the rhymer ties himself to words of one

    “Birds in the Spring
    Do chirp and sing
      With clear, shrill and sweet Throats;
    Some hop, some fly,
    Some soar on high,
      Each of them knows its Notes.

    “Hear you a Lark?
    Tell me what Clerk
      Can match her; he that beats
    The next Thorn-Bush
    May raise a Thrush
      Would put down all our Wayts.”

Other “clerks” were appointed henceforth to the business of instruction.
Rhymed sermons grew up in the midst of hymns of praise; these were marked
by a forcible and rousing emphasis. If the voice of the Pharisee be heard
no less distinctly than that of the Sluggard, in Dr. Watts’s Divine
and Moral Songs[177], it rises at times into something like a glow of

    “I would not change my Native Land
      For rich Peru with all her Gold;
    A nobler Prize lies in my Hand
      Than East or Western Indies hold.”

Beneath the severity which his doctrine inspired, the learned Doctor had
a genuine tenderness for children, a legacy not despised by the greatest
and most revolutionary of his successors, William Blake. His Cradle Hymn,

    “Hush! my dear, lie still and slumber;
      Holy Angels guard thy bed;”

is remembered the better for Blake’s Cradle Song. In the old conventional
but rhythmic fashion, he too could sing of lambs and children.

There is no answer to strictures on the more common errors of the
nursery; they are so obvious that admiration halts before the power of
rhythm that could give them life. Here and there comes a thought fresh

    “How proud we are, how fond to shew
    Our Clothes, and call them rich and new!
    When the poor Sheep and Silkworm wore
    That very Clothing long before.”

The old indiscriminate approval that gave Dr. Watts a place of honour on
the nursery shelf, started the echoes along two centuries. Critics could
neither silence the triumphant march of the verse nor dispute a ring of
sincerity that it has.

Few poets of the old-fashioned Child’s Garden failed in loyalty to its
first planter; but editors made Lilliputian anthologies and filled
“Poetical Flower Baskets” from other sources. Early in the new century,
the author of _The Butterfly’s Ball_ fell by his frivolous choice from
the company of the elect:

    “The Butterfly, an idle thing,
    Nor honey makes, nor yet can sing.”[178]

He encouraged a spirit of revolt, and talking beasts of divers kinds
broke into the garden.

Of the old order, John Marchant was welcome, despite his lack of
originality, for a trick of rhythm which he had learnt from Dr. Watts,
and apart from this, as a champion of children’s games. He had “Songs
for Little Misses”, “Songs for Little Masters”, and “Songs”, varying the
martial beat of Dr. Watts, on “Divine, Moral and Other Subjects”.[179]

Children, he is persuaded, would be “delighted with the Humour of them
because _adapted to their own Way of thinking and to the Occurrences that
happen within their own little Sphere of Action_.”

Stevenson could not give a more detailed picture of these “occurrences”;
it is in the region of childish thought that his predecessor drifts into
an uncharted sea. He knows nothing of the little mythologies of children;
there are no imaginary countries, no “Unseen Playmate”, no dreams. It
is the difference between the old garden and the new, which is of the
child’s own planting.

There was a truant in the _Babees’ Book_[180] who sang:

    “I wolde my master were an hare
    & all his bokis houndis were
    & I myself a joly hontere.”

In the years between this and _Puerilia_, no child was encouraged to
put his own thoughts into rhyme; but Marchant’s “Little Miss” is heard
“Talking to her Doll”, “Working at her Sampler”, “playing on her Spinet”,
even “learning to dance”. The “little Master” of 1751 whips his top,
flies his kite and goes a-birds’-nesting in verse, when he is released
from Arithmetic and the Languages.

But the world of Make-believe is still unknown to grown-up travellers: a
mystery jealously hidden by the child from unsympathetic eyes.

A doll, in the matter-of-fact view of Mr. Marchant, is a “mere painted
piece of wood”:

    “Legs thou hast, and tho’ they’re jointed,
      Yet one Step thou canst not walk;
    Head there is to thee appointed,
      Yet thou canst not think or talk.”

The rudest image could not be such a dead thing to a child. The author is
upon enchanted ground, and blind to all its wonders.

He is safer following the needle in a child’s hand, tracing the “odd and
various” crochets upon a sampler, or drawing a moral from the building of
a “Pasty Pye”.

To music, whether of kit or spinet, he can keep time. “Miss learning to
dance”, in her saque and hooped petticoat, is a bewitching figure, and
the musician, though his skill is not great, contrives not to put her out:

    “How pretty ’tis to dance!
      To curtsey and advance
    And wave about my Hands
      To sound of Kit.
    My Steps true Measure keep,
      Thus lightly do I trip,
    Along the Floor I sweep
      With nimble Feet.”

“Master”, watching a Puppet-show, plays Gulliver at the Court of
Lilliput, surveys the “pigmy Troop” and makes appropriate reflections.

A boy’s kite carries this quaint versifier for a moment into the upper
air. Even there his fancy cannot support itself; he snatches a simile for
the sake of the rhyme, then takes a header to earth and fastens on his

    “He that soars a Pitch too high,
      Riding on Ambition’s Wings:
    Sudden in the Dirt may lie;
      Pride its Shadow ever brings.”

But the Kite actually rises, waving a “knotty Tail,” seeming now “a
little Cloud,” now “no bigger than a Spoon”; the birds play round her or
mistake her for a hawk, and the boy, were his string long enough, “_would
send her to the Moon_.”

The rhymes of _Mother Goose’s Melody_ and _The Top Book of All_ were
wild flowers that sowed themselves in the midst of herbaceous borders.
Two garlands of folk-songs for children grew out of the same soil. The
date of _Gammer Gurton’s Garland_ is unknown.[181] A Bodleian copy in
flowered covers has some rhymes from _Mother Goose_; but the most daring
“Lulliputian” would not have chosen the fairy theme of impossible tasks:

    “Can you make me a cambrick shirt,
      _Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme_:
    Without any seam or needle work?
      And you shall be a true lover of mine.”

Here, also, is the singing-game of “London Bridge,” and “A very pretty
little Christmas Carol:”

    “God bless the Master of this house
            The Misteress also
    And all the little Children
            That round the table go
    And all your kin and kinsmen
            That dwell both far and near:
    I wish them a merry Christmas
            And a happy New Year.”

Ritson reprinted _Gammer Gurton_, with additions, in 1810; but in
the meantime an unknown editor had collected new “Songs for the
Nursery”,[182] and adapted them “to favourite national Melodies”.

This is the biggest gap in the hedge. Here, at last, is the open
country,—the cuckoo’s song:

    “The Cuckoo’s a bonny bird;
      She sings as she flies;
    She brings us good tidings
      And tells us no lies:
    She sucks little birds’ eggs
      To make her voice clear
    And never cries Cuckoo!
      Till Springtime of the year.”,

the daffodil:

    “Daffy-Down-Dilly is new come to town
    With a yellow petticoat and a green gown.”,

and the song of the North Wind:

    “The north Wind doth blow
      And we shall have snow
    And what will poor Robin do then?
                        Poor thing!

    “He’ll sit in a barn
      And keep himself warm
    And hide his head under his wing,
                        Poor thing.”

It is even more surprising to find, in this trim garden, a nursery lyric
that calls up the very spirit of child-thought:

    “How many miles is it to Babylon?
      Three score miles and ten.
    Can I get there by candle-light?
      Yes, and back again.”[183]

There are no other songs like these. _The Poetical Flower Basket_[184]
represents the Lilliputian tradition that prevailed between 1760 and
1789: rhymed fables, epigrams and inscriptions from poets who never wrote
for children, and the story of “Inkle and Yarico” in verse.

Of Blake[185], it is difficult to speak in such a company. He was a
winged thing hovering over little formal beds of lavender, catching
for a moment an echo of children’s voices repeating the creed of “The
Little Black Boy,” dropping a tear for the Chimney-Sweeper, then flying
off unseen and unheard to sing his own songs of joy and love, too much
a child to suffer the interruptions of other children; scarcely to be
understood by those who were dreaming their own dreams under the noses
of the pedagogues. A Pied Piper who never offered his services to the
community; a sublime truant from every school. Of the realistic faith
that could map out a Geography of Heaven, he had no knowledge; yet Laws
and Moralities were the burden of some songs that had touched him. There
is a magic in the simplest form of verse that may quicken the beat of a
child’s heart, and endow little forgotten rules and prescriptions of the
nursery with unexpected significance. If Blake could have alighted in
the starlight outside a window and heard Ann Taylor putting one of her
children to bed, he might have come in and acknowledged the existence of
naughtiness, just for the pleasure of being forgiven. Some voices can
sweeten the longest homily, and the culprit waits patiently for the kiss
that must come when the sermon begins:

    “And has _my darling_ told a lie?”[186]

There is a triumphant contradiction in so tender a severity; a very
rainbow of promise:

    “Do you think I can love you so naughty as this,[187]
      Or kiss you all wetted with tears?”

“Idle Mary” can pass it all on to her doll. Later on, when she looks down
from the height of the first speaker, she understands how forgiveness and
hope came with a sudden rush at the end:

    “Oh, Mary, this will never do!
      This work is sadly done, my dear,
    And then so little of it too!
      You have not taken pains, I fear.

    “Oh no, your work has been forgotten.
      Indeed you’ve hardly thought of that;
    I saw you roll your ball of cotton
      About the floor to please the cat.


    “The little girl who will not sew
      Should neither be allowed to play;
    _But then I hope, my love, that you_
      _Will take more pains another day_.”[188]

The authors of the _Original Poems_[189] wore the laurels of Dr.
Watts “with a difference.” They remembered all his tunes, they played
variations on most of his themes, but they added songs of their own. In
these, Walter Scott caught a note of poetry, and wrote to thank “the
Associate Minstrels”. Miss Edgeworth, who cared less for rhythm, praised
them for other excellences. The songs were a means of gentle intercourse
between these writers and “that interesting little race, the race of
children” for whom they had “so hearty an affection”.

The child of the new garden can join hands, “through the windows of this
book”, with the child of the old. Ann and Jane and Adelaide were the
great aunts-in-literature of Louis Stevenson. A hundred years before
him they sang of stars and sun, of day and night and play in gardens.
The contrast is the greater because not one or two, but all their poems
turned upon “the whole Duty of Children”. Instead of following a child
“up the mountain sides of dreams”, they were intent on pointing out to
him a world of greater Reality.

The dream world lies all about Stevenson’s “Garden”, there is no hedge to
separate it from ordinary roads and rivers; they all lead to Fairyland.
Yet this most practical dreamer could speak in the very accents and call
up the _silhouettes_ of his gentle predecessors at any moment.

It is impossible to read of “The friendly cow all red and white”,[190]
without thinking of Jane Taylor’s

    “Thank you, pretty cow that made
    Pleasant milk to soak my bread.”[191]

The child in her garden looked up and wondered at one star; that other
child in the hundred-years-distant garden, escaped at bedtime to watch
“thousands and millions of stars”.

Who would recognise the theme of Stevenson’s “Wind” symphony, under the
old title of “The Child’s Monitor”?[192] Yet the first two lines proclaim

    “The wind blows down the largest tree
    _And yet the wind I cannot see_—”

The wind that brings mystery into the new Garden was an emblem of human
thought in the old. Stevenson’s myth is a real product of the child mind:

    “O you that are so strong and cold,
    O blower, are you young or old?
    Are you a beast of field and tree,
    Or just a stronger child than me?”

There could be no such heathen explanation for Adelaide O’Keefe. The
Wind took shape as an allegory in her day: it changed into the Voice of
Conscience, it became an ever-watchful angel:

    “Thus, _something_ very near must be,
    Although invisible to me;
    Whate’er I do, it sees me still,
    O then, Good Spirit, guide my will!”

In another place the four elements are considered in a modestly
scientific light.[193] They balance a juvenile version of _The Seasons_.
Nature is regarded from the old didactic point of view. Spring, when “the
Creatures begin their employ” invites to industry; the Idle who in Summer
“love best in the shade to recline” are admonished by the active joys of
haymaking; the innocent hare is remembered in the hunting season, and in
Winter, Charity sits by a glowing hearth and comforts itself with the
sophistries of Dr. Watts for the unequal distribution of faggots.

These are but echoes; there are many touches that give the personal
records of keen and watchful eyes:

    “I saw a leaf come tilting down,
      From a bare wither’d bough;
    The leaf was dead, the branch was brown,
      No fruit was left it now:

    “But much the rattling tempest blew,
      The naked boughs among:
    And here and there came whistling through
      A leaf that loosely hung.


    “I saw an old man totter slow,
      Wrinkled, and weak, and grey.
    He’d hardly strength enough to go
      Ever so short a way.”[194]

The leaf and the old man had been seen and remembered, the one for the
sake of the other. There were times when Ann, in her gentle way, came
very near the heart of things. The three could not have sung so well
together if they had not practised different parts. Jane, comparing her
own verses with the rest, modestly explained: “I allow my pieces to rank
as the _leaves_ which are, you know, always reckoned a necessary and even
pleasing part of the bouquet.”

The comparison is hardly just, or if so, they are bright leaves, more
striking, though fewer than the flowers.

There is a crisp touch about her simplest work. The verses are better
turned than Adelaide’s or Ann’s. She is content to take her subjects from
the common stock of moral tales[195], to arrange her nursery pictures in
twos and fours; but in spite of convention, her “Morning” is a Reveillé:

    “O come, for the bee has flown out of his bed,
      To begin his day’s labours anew;
    The spider is weaving her delicate thread,
      Which brilliantly glitters with dew.


    “Awake, little sleeper, and do not despise
      Of insects instruction to ask,
    From your pillow with good resolution arise,
      And cheerfully go to your task.”

“Evening”, the companion picture, is no more original; in due order
all the properties of Morpheus move before tired eyes; sheep, and the
parting linnet and the owl, the setting sun, the friendly moon that
peeps through the curtain. Children know them all, and for that reason,
the cradle-movement of the verse is the more soothing. Conventional
portraits, “The Shepherd Boy” and “The Gleaner” stand out in clear
simplicity, one on each side of the nursery mantel-piece, as “Evening”
and “Morning” go over the bed. But when all the pictures are arranged,
some of the figures walk out of them and begin to dance upon the floor.

“The Creatures” are never mere moral messengers. Jane has the same eye
for character in beasts as in flowers or children. “The Toad’s Journal”
in _Q. Q._ is a better example of this than any of her nursery pieces.
This “venerable reptile”, supposed to have been found alive in the ruins
of an Egyptian temple, records the events of his _first thousand years_:

    “Crawled forth from some rubbish and wink’d with one eye;
    Half opened the other, but could not tell why;
    Stretched out my left leg, as it felt rather queer,
    Then drew all together and slept for a year.
    Awaken’d, felt chilly—crept under a stone;
    Was vastly contented with living alone.
    One toe became wedged in the stone like a peg,
    Could not get it away—had the cramp in my leg:
    Began half to wish for a neighbour at hand
    To loosen the stone which was fast in the sand;
    Pull’d harder—then dozed as I found it no use;—
    Awoke the next summer, and lo! it was loose.”

The next sleep (“for a century or more”) gives time to dream; the
dreamer, awakened,

    “Grew pensive—discovered that life is a load;
    _Began to be weary of being a toad_:”

It is a daring moralist who laughs at her own moral:

    “To find a moral _when there’s none_
    Is hard indeed—_yet must be done_:”

The moral, just because “_there’s none_,” presses the unspoken analogy:

    “Age after age afforded him
    To wink an eye or move a limb,
    To doze and dream;—and then to think
    Of noting this with pen and ink;
    Or hieroglyphic shapes to draw,
    More likely with his hideous claw;
    Such length of days might be bestowed
    On something better than a toad!
    Had his existence been eternal,
    What better could have filled his journal?”

To go back to the Nursery (the Original Poets were scarcely more than
children when they wrote), Jane’s talking beasts quickened the old stuff
of fables by a new sense of likeness and incongruity. The spider and his
wife (Jane loved spiders) are as real to a child as any married couple
of his acquaintance. He follows their fortunes with personal concern; he
would forego a feast to dine with them:

    “One day when their cupboard was empty and dry
      His wife, (Mrs. Hairy-leg Spinner,)
    Said to him, ‘Dear, go to the cobweb, and try
    If you can’t find the leg or the wing of a fly,
      As a bit of a relish for dinner’”.

The Cow and the Ass, meeting where the child may see them on any summer
day, reconcile nonsense and natural history. The small actor can take
both parts, and laughs the more at his own drollery.

      “‘Take a seat,’ cried the cow, gently waving her hand.
      ‘By no means, dear Madam,’ said he, ‘while you stand.’
      Then stooping to drink, with a complaisant bow,
    ‘Ma’am, your health,’ said the ass:—‘Thank you, Sir,’ said the cow.”

Thus laughter crept into the garden under the eye of Caution and Example,
and, for his coaxing ways, was allowed to stay as a probationer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Charles and Mary Lamb wrote their _Poetry for Children_[196] as a
task. It was probably suggested by Mrs. Godwin, anxious to rival the
publishers of _Original Poems_. In a letter to Coleridge (June, 1809),
Lamb says: “Our little poems are but humble, but they have no name. You
must read them, remembering they were task-work; and perhaps you will
admire the number of subjects, all of children, picked out by an old
Batchelor and an old Maid. Many parents would not have found so many.”

The Lambs could do nothing together without enjoying it; they could not
speak in a child’s voice, and had almost forgotten the way to Babylon,
but there are fewer subtleties of child-thought here than in _Mrs.
Leicester’s School_. The verses are full of practical interests. The
humour of the writers brought tenderness and delight to the “task”, and
children, who are quick to catch the note of sympathy, would feel this
without understanding it.

Lamb had already tried his hand at children’s rhymes. In 1805 he had
written _The King and Queen of Hearts_[197], a careless and farcical
impromptu which he sent by carrier to “Mr. Johnny Wordsworth”, begging
his “acceptance and opinion”.

It is not easy to decide his exact share in _Poetry for Children_. The
pieces reprinted in 1818[198] are not children’s poems. One of them, “To
a River in which a Child was drowned”, was suggested by the translation
of a Spanish ballad in Percy’s _Reliques_. “Love, Death and Reputation”
was recognised by Swinburne as a translation from Webster’s _Duchess of

Lamb seems to have amused himself now and then by casting fragments of
mature flavour into this jar of nursery simples.

Of children, but assuredly not for them is the beautiful “Parental
Recollections” which suggests understanding as well as love:

    “A child’s a plaything for an hour;
      Its pretty tricks we try
    For that or for a longer space;
      Then tire and lay it by.

    “But I knew one that to itself
      All Seasons could controul,
    That would have mock’d the sense of pain
      Out of a grieved soul.

    “Thou, straggler into loving arms
      Young climber up of knees,
    When I forget thy thousand ways
      Then life and all shall cease.”

Charles Lamb knew the Child that Wordsworth reverenced: the child of

              “... _that to itself_
      _All seasons could controul_”.

The verses he would have repeated in that child’s company were nonsense
rhymes or metrical “wild tales”; not without a song or two from
Shakespeare (after the wise example of Mother Goose); for he never could
keep the things he loved best out of talk or writing.

_Poetry for Children_ was written to fit parental ideals, just as stories
were sometimes invented to accompany stock illustrations; yet Lamb’s gay
humour played pranks here and there, as in the gratulatory ode, “Going
into Breeches”:

    “Joy to Philip, he this day
    Has his long coats cast away
    And (the childish season gone)
    Puts the manly breeches on.
    Officer on gay parade,
    Red-coat in his first cockade,
    Bridegroom in his wedding trim,
    Birthday beau surpassing him,
    Never did with conscious gait
    Strut about in half the state,
    Or the pride (yet free from sin)
    Of my little Manikin:
    Never was there pride or bliss,
    Half so rational as his.
    Sashes, frocks, to those that need ’em—
    Philip’s limbs have got their freedom—
    He can run, or he can ride,
    And do twenty things beside,
    Which his petticoats forbade:
    Is he not a happy lad?”

And is not this a mischievous poet, that dares sympathise thus openly
with nursery vanities? A dangerous man, with a tendency to romantic,
unlawful sentiment. He places the revolutionary effusion between two
tender and wholly innocent little poems of Mary’s.[199] It should have
been pilloried instead in a column facing “George and the Chimney
Sweeper”, by Adelaide O’Keefe:[200]

    “His petticoats now George cast off,
      For he was four years old;
    His trousers were nankeen so fine,
      His buttons bright as gold,—
    ‘May I,’ said little George, ‘go out
      My pretty clothes to show?
    May I, papa? May I, mamma? ’
      _The answer was_—‘_No, no!_’”

Here, retribution is foreshadowed in the first stanza, if a second glance
be given at the title.

In another mood. Lamb could sit patient under his reverend predecessor,
or give new life to an old text:

    “In your garb and outward clothing
      A reserved plainness use;
    By their neatness more distinguish’d
      Than the brightness of their hues.

    “All the colours in the rainbow
      Serve to spread the peacock’s train;
    Half the lustre of their feathers
      Would turn twenty coxcombs vain.

    “Yet the swan that swims in rivers,
      Pleases the judicious sight;
    Who, of brighter colours heedless,
      Trusts alone to simple white.

    “Yet all other hues, compared
      With his whiteness, show amiss;
    And the peacock’s coat of colours
      Like a fool’s coat looks by his.”

Lamb’s instincts were all against the timid doctrine of cautionary tales.
A sermon is a thing that may be borne, even enjoyed, at the appointed
hour; but there is no escape from regulations which cramp and restrict
every natural movement. Philip is not encouraged to eschew games and
concentrate on “little books”; he is not warned on promotion that all
the things he wants to do are dangerous; he may play Baste the Bear,
Leap-frog, Foot-ball and Cricket, he may run in the snow, he may even

    “_Climb a tree, or scale a wall,_
    _Without any fear to fall._”

If a branch will not bear his weight,

    “If he get a hurt or bruise,
    To complain he must refuse,
    Though the anguish and the smart
    Go unto his little heart.”

It was at this point that some of the trees in the Child’s Garden put
forth new shoots and began to grow into their natural shapes.

But there was no revolt against wholesome discipline; traditional virtues
were still honoured in verse, cleanliness as well as courage:

    “Come, my little Robert near—
    Fie! what filthy hands are here—
    Who that ere could understand
    The rare structure of a hand,
    With its branching fingers fine,
    Work itself of hands divine,


    “Who this hand would choose to cover
    With a crust of dirt all over,
    Till it look’d in hue and shape
    Like the fore-foot of an Ape?”

The romance of antiquity induces reverence for Age:

    “My father’s grandfather lives still,
      His age is fourscore years and ten;
    He looks a monument of time,
      The agedest of aged men.”

These were town-bred poets; Nature figures only in side-glances. “The
Ride” gives the town child’s delight in fields, but two children are the
real subject of the picture. The Rainbow, regarded from a honeysuckle
bower, is sweet after a tempest, but it is a messenger of earth: each
precious tint is dear to Mary Lamb, “which flowers, which fields, which
_ladies wear_.” The robe of Iris is unwoven to find the colours of
gardens, of living things, and of the human face. The magic bridge is
dissolved with “half of its perfect arch” yet visible.

“The Boy and the Skylark” is the most revolutionary of these pieces.
Bees and lambs, ants and silkworms, had been noted for the docility with
which they entered into the business of human improvement. This sky-lark
asserts the independence of his race. He scorns the limitations of human
imagination which conceives of “the feathered race” as serving the little
ends of man. Richard, hearing the lark’s song, confesses his sin, under
the impression that the “little bird” will betray him, as indeed Dr.
Watts and all Lilliput would have had him believe.

This, says the bird, is folly “fit to move a sky-lark’s mirth.”

    “Dull fool! to think we sons of air
    On man’s low actions waste a care,
      His virtues, or his vices;
    Or soaring on the summer gales,
    That we should stoop to carry tales
      Of him or his devices!

    “Our songs are all of the delights
    We find in our wild airy flights,
      And heavenly exaltation;
    The earth you mortals have at heart
    Is all too gross to have a part
      In sky-lark’s conversation.”

Mrs. Trimmer would have been inexpressibly shocked at this bird’s
attitude; Ann Taylor would have been grieved that he was not more
friendly; Jane might have seen his point of view. But this lark is a
literal poet; there is no attempt here to interpret a real ecstasy of
song. The poem is but an argument that hits a popular fallacy. This is
still the voice of the town and of common sense. The Spectator might have
said as much for the birds that sang in his cherry trees.

There is only one fairy in _Poetry for Children_; fairies, like dreams,
were outside the pale of the Garden. This one is a spirit of the age,
but springs from the brain of a child. Little Ann was a friend of Mary
Lamb’s, and knew what the poet “prettily” wrote about Titania; but
because she had not been admitted to fairy Society, it was entirely
natural that she should project into fairyland the most diminutive
creature of her acquaintance (an Edgeworthian method of setting
imagination to work upon experience) and describe the “fabulous being” to
her friend:

    “‘You’ll confess, I believe, I’ve not done it amiss.’
    ‘Pardon me,’ said Matilda, ‘I find in all this
    Fine description you’ve only your young sister Mary
    Been taking a copy of here for a fairy.’”

There is a thrill of adventure in the true tale of a child that took
an adder for a “_fine grey bird_”, and shared with it, in perfect
fearlessness, his breakfast of bread and milk; children laugh over the
odd choice of the little Creole who saw a crowd of dancing chimney
sweepers on a May morning, thought they were his fellow countrymen, and
became ambitious for a sooty coat. These stories could have been told as
well in prose; but the charming fancy called “The Desert” is a feast of
the nursery muse:

    “With the apples and the plums
    Little Carolina comes,
    At the time of the dessert she
    Comes and drops her last new curt’sy;
    Graceful curt’sy, practis’d o’er
    In the nursery before.
    What shall we compare her to?
    The dessert itself will do.
    Like preserves she’s kept with care,
    Like blanch’d almonds she is fair,
    Soft as down on peach her hair,
    And so soft, so smooth is each
    Pretty cheek as that same peach,
    Whiter drapery she does wear
    Than the frost on cake; and sweeter
    Than the cake itself, and neater,
    Though bedeck’d with emblems fine,
    Is our little Caroline.”

Studies of children, in the warm and tender colouring of personal
reminiscence, are the chief matter of the book; children do not
appreciate the love and insight that makes it poetry; they will not stand
still to trace, in these portraits of brothers and sisters, a likeness
to the gentle authors. Grown-up persons, acquainted with the family
history, understand the little girl’s patience over her broken doll and
her studied kindness to “dear little craving selfish John”.

There is a bending-down in many of the poems that only grown-up persons
understand; the writers stoop to conquer childish reserve, not at all in
the disconcerting manner of Wordsworth, though they sometimes adopt his
way of recording the result:

    “Lately an Equipage I overtook,
    And help’d to lift it o’er a narrow brook.
    No horse it had except one boy, who drew
    His sister out in it the fields to view.
    O happy town-bred girl, in fine chaise going
    For the first time to see the green grass growing.
    This was the end and purport of the ride
    I learn’d, as walking slowly by their side
    I heard their conversation....”

The “task” is forgotten in the pleasure or pathos of such incidents:

    “In a stage coach, where late I chanc’d to be,
      A little quiet girl my notice caught;
    I saw she look’d at nothing by the way,
      Her mind seem’d busy on some childish thought.

    “I with an old man’s courtesy address’d
      The child, and call’d her pretty dark-eyed maid
    And bid her turn those pretty eyes and see
      The wide-extended prospect. ‘Sir,’ she said,

    “‘I cannot see the prospect, I am blind.’
      Never did tongue of child utter a sound
    So mournful, as her words fell on my ear.

Mary Lamb’s poem “The Two Boys”, quoted by Lamb in “Detached Thoughts on
Books and Reading”, records an incident of Martin Burney’s youth:[201]

    “I saw a boy with eager eye
    Open a book upon a stall,
    And read, as he’d devour it all,
    Which, when the stall-man did espy,
    Soon to the boy I heard him call
    ‘You, sir, you never buy a book.
    Therefore in one you shall not look.’
    The boy pass’d slowly on, and with a sigh
    He wish’d he never had been taught to read,
    Then of the old churl’s books he should have had no need.”

This is an unexpected link with Stevenson; the proprietor of the shop
“which was dark and smelt of Bibles” (that quaint store-house of
romance)[202] is a reincarnation of this bookstall man; he repeats the
old growl in prose:

“I do not believe, child, that you are an intending purchaser at all!”

To compare these verses with Stevenson’s is to discover an essential
difference. The Lambs had the same delight in memories, but they looked
back with tenderness to a childhood which they had been forced to leave
behind. Stevenson was a boy to the end. The Child in his Garden is heard
singing his own deeds. These gentle Olympians looked down at

    “Horatio, of ideal courage vain,”

saw him now as Achilles, brandishing his sword, now Hector in a field of
slaughtered Greeks, or the Black Prince, driving the enemy before him;
but lest vain imagination should grow bold upon encouragement, he must
strike his milk-white hand against a nail, and seal the moral with his

    “Achilles weeps, Great Hector hangs his head,
    And the Black Prince goes whimpering to bed.”

The “Mimic Harlequin” who transforms a whole drawing-room full of
furniture into matter of imagination is brought back to reality by his
practical mother:

    “You’ve put the cat among my work, and torn
    A fine lac’d cap that I but once have worn.”

Yet in another rhyme, the monitress relents, and indulging the idle
fancies of Robert, allows him, though late for breakfast,

    “To sit and watch the vent’rous fly
    Where the sugar’s piled high,
    Clambering o’er the lumps so white,
    _Rocky cliffs of sweet delight_”.

There is not enough of this to make a book of children’s poetry. Romance
knocked timidly at the gate and tendered a moral as the price of
admission; but it would be a dull child that could not find him somewhere
in this corner of the garden.

The two small volumes had a short life; some of the pieces were reprinted
in collections, but the book failed to hold its own against Mr. Roscoe’s
bright fancy, _The Butterfly’s Ball_[203], written for the birthday of
his little boy Robert, and set to music by order of their Majesties for
Princess Mary.

Children responded with one accord to the invitation of the first couplet:

    “Come take up your Hats, and away let us haste
    To the Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast.”

Here was an entertainment which made no demands on attention or
understanding, which had no “moral”; it was all pure enjoyment. The
rhymes were as simple as any in _Mother Goose’s Melody_; the pictures,
early efforts of Mulready’s[204], presented the various creatures in
glorious independence, no more constrained by laws of proportion than
the inhabitants of a willow-pattern landscape. They come, a gay and
irresponsible procession, with a hint of fairy-land for all their reality:

    “A Mushroom their table, and on it was laid
    A Water-Dock leaf, which a Table-Cloth made.”

There is “the sly little Dormouse” and “his blind Brother the Mole”; the
Frog (found still in the same attitude by Alice in Wonderland) and the
Squirrel, who watches the feast from a tree. The rest are mostly winged:

    “... the Gnat and the Dragon-fly too,
    With all their Relations, Green, Orange, and Blue.”

The Harlequin Spider performs feats on the tight line, a giant Bee hovers
over an absurdly inadequate hive, a snail bigger than either offers to
dance a Minuet; and at nightfall the Watchman Glow-worm is ready with his

The feast is soon done, but for a third reading it can be got by heart.

“A Sequel”, _The Peacock “At Home”_,[205] appeared in the same year,
with a frank and humorous acknowledgment of its predecessor’s success. A
pleasing mystery about its authorship was solved some years later in the
preface of “_The Peacock and Parrot on their Tour to discover the Author
of ‘The Peacock At Home’_.”

    “A path strewed with flowers they early pursued,
    And in fancy, their long-sought Incognita viewed.
    Till, all their cares over, in _Dorset_ they found her,
    And, plucking a wreath of green bay-leaves, they crowned her.”

Mrs. Dorset, thus discovered, was a sister of Charlotte Smith, the writer
of _Minor Morals_ and _Rural Walks_.

All the birds left out of the Butterfly’s Ball, including foreigners,
such as the Taylor Bird and Flamingo, were guests of the Peacock. They
offered a variety of absurd analogies.

_The Lion’s Masquerade_, rhymed in the same quaint humour, was a sort of
Æsop in Ranelagh:

    “The guests now came thronging in numbers untold,
    The furious, the gentle, the young and the old,
    In dominos some, but in characters most,
    And now a brave warrior, and then a fair toast.
    _The Baboon_ as a _Counsellor_: Alderman Glutton:
    A Lamb, Miss _in her teens_, with her aunt, an old mutton.
    It was easy to see, as this couple past by,
    The Wolf, very cunningly, cast a sheep’s eye.”

A guest of unusual interest is the “_Great Hog in Armour_” who stalks, in
Mulready’s illustration, like the ghost in Hamlet, under a full moon;
and there is a Bear in the “character” of Caliban,

                              “... loaded with wood,
    His bones full of aches, from Prospero’s rod.”

Those were great naval days; the English sailor is represented by a

    “Britannia receiv’d him with mark’d condescension
    And paid him all night, most distinguish’d attention.”

Bewick’s beasts and birds forsook their natural haunts and danced in
the most carefully preserved parterres. They came in their thousands,
of all sizes and nationalities. “W. B.” followed Mrs. Dorset with _The
Elephant’s Ball_, and the Season was extended till all “the Children of
Earth and the Tenants of Air” were exhausted. Children ran out of the
Lambs’ quiet parlour into a garden of perpetual Feasts. What could come
better after the Butterfly’s Ball than a Wedding Among the Flowers?

But there was still an old-fashioned lady, one Miss Elizabeth Turner,
who held aloof, wielding the rod of Dr. Watts. With the perversity of
their race, the Lilliputians fell into step as they approached her, and
listened to her warnings with a fearful joy. She told them, in simple
numbers, how Miss Sophia would not wait for the garden gate to be opened,
and demonstrated by her fall, that “little girls should never climb”;
she expected them to believe that every little boy with a craving for
adventure must share the fate of one who

              “Once was pretty Jack
      And had a kind Papa;
    But, silly child! he ran to play
    Too far from home, a long, long way,
      And did not ask Mama.
    So he was lost, and now must creep
    Up chimneys, crying, Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!”

Poor Jane and little Tom excited a thrill as “cautionary” Babes in the
Wood. They succumbed to the fatal fascination of scarlet berries:

    “Alas! had Tommy understood
    That fruit in lanes is seldom good,
    He might have walked with little Jane
    Again along the shady lane.”

Small listeners decided privately that Peter was an indifferent sportsman
to turn the red-hot poker against himself; they would prove at the first
opportunity that he bungled the thing. But when other children cried, it
amused them to agree with Miss Turner that

    “A rod is the very best thing to apply
    When children are crying and cannot tell why!”

The names of her two little books[206] have no obvious connection with
the verses. She explains _The Daisy_ in a _Cowslip_ rhyme:

    “Like the flow’ret it spreads, unambitious of fame,
      Nor intrudes upon critical gaze.”

But names are pictures to a child: daisies and cowslips should have
a place in his garden. In open defiance of the calendar, these were
succeeded by _The Snowdrop_ and _The Crocus_. Mary Elliott suffered
herself to be turned by the Muse from Precept and Example; she added _The
Rose_[207] to this serial garland. Little feet went willingly after her,
for she led the way through a village, and visited many friends. At the
window of the village shop they loitered together, forgetting all the
penalties of pleasure-seeking in a glory of gingerbread, candy, little
gilt books and many sorts of toys:

    “How many bright eyes have I seen
      Examine each article o’er,
    Still looking, while pausing between
      The window and latch of the door.

    “For well the young customers know
      The Dame does not like to be teased,
    And when indecision they show,
      Cries ‘children can never be pleased!’

    “Such grumbling, however, is borne
      While thus she displays such nice fare,
    And her threshold, uneven and worn
      Proves how many footsteps go there!”

The Giant Instruction sent a few spies into the garden, disguised as
poets. Wise children saw through the deception at once; others, lured
into encyclopædic mazes, yawned while the guide recited “Edward, or
Rambling reasoned on”,[208] and described the delights of town for the
benefit of those who hankered after foreign travel:

    “The pictures in the Louvre
      Display their bright perfections,
    But we should first manœuvre
      To see some home collections.


    “The Royal Institution
      Gives knowledge, taste and skill,
    And change without confusion
      Attends its lectures still.

    “Some folks have wished to be
      Whole years in the Museum:
    So much there is to see,
      No fear it should _ennui ’em_.”

The unconscious humorist rambles thus through a dozen stanzas. But the
last lines are drowned by the voice of the Pedlar at the door. He is
singing new rhymes to old tunes: _Whimsical Incidents_, _Cinderella
in Verse_, _Mother Hubbard_, _Dame Trot_ and _Goody Flitch_.[209] The
Lady of Ninety who wrote _Dame Wiggins of Lee_[210] must have heard him
singing in her youth.

Nonsense rhymers, whipped out of the Court of Stupidity, found a refuge
in the purlieus of the child’s garden; nobody recognised them as
descendants of the citizens of Cockayne, or suspected that they would
one day be honoured as predecessors of Edward Lear. Yet who shall gauge
their influence on the character of Englishmen, or decide how far the
eccentricities of certain theorists depended on the exclusion of nonsense
from the nursery?

The History of the _Sixteen Wonderful Old Women_[211] came too late for
Mr. Day:

    “There was an Old Woman from France
    Who taught grown-up Children to dance,
      But they were so stiff,
      She sent them home in a miff,
    This sprightly Old Woman from France.”

While Mr. Edgeworth was “explaining” poetry to children, and later, when
Young Reviewers were being taught to “dissect poems”,[212] the Pedlar was
still singing for truant minds. If he knew nothing of poetry, at least he
knew enough to let it alone; and his songs were good to dance to, which
every child knows is an excellent thing in songs.


[1] _The Tatler_, No. 95.

[2] See Appendix A. I. Note on these and other romances.

[3] _The History of Thomas Hickathrift_, 1750 (?). See below. Chapter II
and Appendix A. II.

[4] See Appendix A. I. Note on _Dr. Faustus_.

[5] See Appendix A. I. Note on Nonsense Books.

[6] For details of this and of other tracts, see Appendix A. I.

[7] First edition, 1678.

[8] See Introduction to _The Pilgrim’s Progress_ (Methuen) by Prof. C. H.

[9] Richard Graves, in the _Spiritual Quixote_ (1772), likens the
adventures of Christian to those of Jack the Giant Killer and John

[10] Published 1719. Abridged 12 mo. in the same year. See Note on
_Philip Quarll_, Appendix A. I.

[11] First edition, 1726.

[12] _Spectator_, Nos. 70, 74 and 85. See Appendix A. I.

[13] See further Appendix A. I.

[14] See Appendix A. I.

[15] See note on sea songs and ballads—Appendix A. I.

[16] First printed by W. Copland.

[17] First printed by Wynkyn de Worde.

[18] _Illustrations of Northern Antiquities_, by Weber, Jamieson and

[19] Printed from the earliest extant copies, and edited by G. L. Gomme.
(_Chap-books and Folk-lore Tracts_, First Series, 1885).

[20] See Coleridge’s _Biographia Literaria_, Vol. II., Ch. XVIII. (1870

[21] A Douce chap-book of _Tom Thumb_ (verse) is “corrected after an old
copy, printed for F. Coles”. This has a note on an earlier edition (1621).

[22] (_a_) “The Wandering Young Gentlewoman, or Catskin (complete)”. W.
Armstrong, Liverpool, n.d. (early 19th c.) (_b_) “Catskin’s Garland, or
the Wandering Young Gentlewoman”, in five parts (verse). Printed and sold
by T. Cheney, Banbury, n.d.

[23] For a full account of ballads and prose chap-books, see the
introduction to “The History of Sir Richard Whittington”, edited by H.
B. Wheatley (Chap-books and Folk-lore Tracts, 1885). See Appendix A for
references in the _Tatler_, _Spectator_, etc.

[24] _Histoires ou Contes du Tems passé, avec des Moralités. A Paris,
chez Claude Barbin. Avec Privilège de sa Majesté, 1697._ Title on
frontispiece: _Contes de ma mère Loye_. Another edition: _Histoires
ou Contes du Temps passé, avec des Moralités. Par le fils de Monsieur
Perrault de l’Academie François. Suivant la copie à Paris. A Amsterdam,
chez Jacques Desbordes, 1708._ For a full account of Charles Perrault and
the _Contes_, see Mr. Andrew Lang’s introduction to his edition, 1888.

[25] The original English translation is advertised in the _Flying Post_,
or _Weekly Medley_ for June 7, 1729, “printed for J. Pope at Sir Isaac
Newton’s Head, the corner of Suffolk Street, Charing Cross—just published
(very entertaining and instructive for children, with cuts to every
tale). Done into English from the French by Mr. Samber.”

[26] (_a_) _Tales of the Fairys._ Translated from the French. For T.
Cockerill, 1699. 12s. (_b_) The collected Works of Madame D’Aulnoy,
published by John Nicolson, at the King’s Arms, and at the Cross Keys and
Bible in Cornhill, 1707.

[27] Translated into English _c._ 1770. 3rd edition 1776.

[28] See below, Chap. VI.

[29] The _Arabian Nights’ Entertainments_. Translated into French from
the Arabian MSS. by M. Galland of the Royal Academy, and now done into
English. For A. Bell, 1708, 12mo. (8 vols.). See Appendix A. II.

[30] See Wordsworth’s “Prelude”, Book V.

[31] _The History of Sinbad_ was published as a nursery chap-book by E.
Newbery (between 1779 and 1801) at 6d.

[32] See De Quincey’s _Autobiographic Sketches_, Vol. I, Ch. III. “Infant
Literature,” pp. 121-125.

[33] See _Spectator_, 535.

[34] _Rambler_, 65.

[35] _Anecdotes of Johnson_ (1786) by Mrs. Thrale (aft. Piozzi).

[36] _The Oriental Moralist, or the Beauties of the Arabian Nights’
Entertainments_: “Translated from the original, accompanied with suitable
reflections, adapted to each story”. London, E. Newbery, c. 1796.

[37] _The Travels of Tom Thumb over England and Wales_, “containing
Descriptions of whatever is most remarkable in the several Counties,
interspersed with many pleasant Adventures that happened to him
personally during the Course of his Journey. Written by Himself.” London,
1746. Price 1s. 6d. bound.

[38] _Robin Goodfellow_, “A Fairy Tale written by a Fairy, for the
amusement of all the pretty little Faies and Fairies in Great Britain and
Ireland”. Printed for F. Newbery, 1770.

[39] See Appendix A. II.

[40] Mr. Charles Welsh in _A Bookseller of the Last Century_, gives a
full account of John Newbery and his work. There is a complete list of
the Newbery Books in the Appendix.

[41] By J. Wright. Second edition, 1738.

[42] The “Advertisement” is quoted in Appendix A. III.

[43] Advertised in the _Penny London Post_, January 18, 1745.

[44] Adv., April 9th, 1761. See Appendix A. III.

[45] From Francis Newbery’s Autobiography.

[46] Advertised in the _General Evening Post_, March 4, 1751, Price 3d.
Additions in Appendix A. III.

[47] An “Entertainment” later performed with Garrick’s “Fairy Tale from
Shakespeare” (1777). See p. 82, Note 2.

[48] See note in Appendix A. III.

[49] See Appendix A. III.—Novels abridged or adapted for children.

[50] See Appendix A. III.

[51] Title-page, etc. in Appendix A. III.

[52] First edition, April, 1765. Others in Appendix A. III.

[53] For details of the _Valentine’s_ and _Twelfth Day Gifts_, see
Appendix A. III.

[54] _Spectator_, 117, July 14, 1711; and Goldsmith, “On Deceit and
Falsehood”, The Bee, No. 8, Nov. 24, 1759.

[55] See below. Chap. VII.

[56] _The Bee._ Nov. 10, 1759—“On Education.”

[57] See Note in Appendix A. III.

[58] Examples in Appendix A. III.

[59] Some account of them, and of the later “Lilliputian” books is given
in Appendix A. III.

[60] Mentioned in Carnan’s list of 1787. For details see Appendix A. III.

[61] _Juvenile Trials_ “for robbing orchards, telling fibs and other
heinous offences—Embellished with Cuts. By Master Tommy Lyttleton,
Secretary to the Court”. T. Carnan, 1781. Another edition—Lond. for T.
Carnan, 1786.

[62] See below, Chapter VI.

[63] _The Juvenile Biographer_, “containing the lives of little Masters
and Misses, both good and naughty. Price three-pence”. E. Newbery’s list,
1789. The first edition must have been earlier, since a New England
edition was published in 1787. See Appendix A. III.

[64] Vincent Voiture (1598-1648). See _Some Thoughts Concerning
Education_, § 189. Pope also praised Voiture.

[65] Printed for T. Carnan in St. Paul’s Churchyard, 1786.

[66] This advice suggests a sly hit at the conversation-parties of the
bluestockings, some of whom became writers of children’s books.

[67] _Juvenile Correspondence; or letters suited to Children from four
to above ten Years of Age._ In three Sets. 2nd edition, London, John
Marshall, n.d. (_c._ 1777). For details of another collection by Lucy
Aikin (1816), see Appendix A. III.

[68] The letters of real children were even more mature. See Appendix A.

[69] Called here “_A Midsummer Night’s Dream_”. This must have been
Garrick’s _Fairy Tale in Two Acts, taken from Shakespeare_, played at the
Haymarket in 1777. “The young Princes and Princesses” mentioned as having
been at the play, were the children of George III, then between the ages
of three and fourteen.

[70] See below—Chapters V and VI.

[71] See further—Appendix A. III.

[72] For nursery-books printed by Catnach and Pitts, see Appendix A. III.

[73] _The History of a Banbury Cake_, “An entertaining Book for
Children”. Banbury, printed and sold by J. G. Rusher, Bridge Street, 1d.,

[74] Rousseau’s _Emile_ was published in 1762. Translated into English,

[75] Contributed to _Le Mercure_ (c. 1758). Translated into English “by a
Lady” (Miss Roberts), 1763. Translated by Mrs. Pilkington and illustrated
by Bewick, 1799.

[76] _L’Ami des Enfans._ Published monthly “_avec approbation et
privilège du roi_”, January, 1782-December, 1783. First English
translation (24 vols.) by M. A. Meilan, 1783. See Appendix A. IV. Note on
Armand Berquin.

[77] _The Looking Glass for the Mind; or, Intellectual Mirror_; “being an
elegant collection of the Most Delightful little Stories, and Interesting
Tales: chiefly translated from that much admired Work, L’Ami des Enfans.
With seventy-four Cuts, designed and engraved on Wood, by J. Bewick.”
First published 1787. E. Newbery’s list, 1789. Reprinted in 1885, with an
introduction by Charles Welsh.

[78] _Les Conversations d’Emilie_, crowned by the French Academy in 1783.
Translated into English. London, John Marshall, 1787.

[79] _Adèle et Théodore (3 tomes)_, Paris, 1782. Translated (3 vols.),
London, 1783.

[80] _Les Veillées du Château._ 1784. Translated by T. Holcroft, Dublin,
1785. See Appendix A. IV, for an account of Mrs. Pilkington’s _Tales of
the Cottage_, 1799.

[81] See Mr. Austin Dobson’s account of Madame de Genlis in _Four
Frenchwomen_. London, 1890.

[82] _Le Théâtre d’Education_, published, 1779. Translated (4 vols.) 2nd
edition, London, 1781. See Appendix A. IV, Educational Dramas.

[83] Translated into English as _The History of Little Grandison_. “By
M. Berquin, Author of _The Children’s Friend_.” London, printed for John
Stockdale, 1791. (Price one shilling.) Frontispiece by John Bewick.

[84] _Le Petit La Bruyère; ou, Caractères et Moeurs des Enfans de ce
Siècle. Nouvelle édition, Paris, 1801._ Translated as _La Bruyère the
Less_, Dublin, 1801.

[85] See Appendix A. V.

[86] _The History of Sandford and Merton_, “A work intended for the use
of children”. London. For L. Stockdale, 1783-6-9 (3 vols.). The book was
reprinted all through the nineteenth century.

[87] The first volumes were published in 1766, the fifth not till 1770,
when an abridged chap-book version also appeared. Charles Kingsley edited
a reprint in 1872.

[88] See below, Chapter VIII.

[89] This story had appeared in _The Twelfth Day Gift_, and was very
popular in pre-revolutionary days.

[90] _The Children’s Miscellany_. London, printed for John Stockdale,
1787. It included “The Gentleman and the Basket Maker”. “Little Jack”,
printed separately, became a favourite chap-book.

[91] See Appendix A. V.

[92] _The Hermit; or, the Unparalled (sic) sufferings and surprising
adventures of Mr. Philip Quarll, an Englishman, who was lately discovered
by Mr. D—— upon an uninhabited island in the South Sea_, etc. London,
1727. For other editions see Appendix A. V.

[93] _The New Robinson Crusoe_, 4 vols. London, 1788.

[94] _Original Stories from Real Life_, “with Conversations calculated
to Regulate the Affections and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness”. By
Mary Wollstonecraft. London. Printed for J. Johnson, 1791 (Illustrated
by William Blake). Reprinted, Oxford, 1906, with five of Blake’s
illustrations. Intro. Mr. E. V. Lucas.

[95] See below—Chapter VI.

[96] Dated (1783) by a reference to “the invention of Air Balloons”,
quoted below. Earliest edition seen: _The Juvenile Tatler_, “by a
Society of Young Ladies under the Tuition of Mrs. Teachwell.” London, J.
Marshall. 1789.

[97] _The Fairy Spectator; or, The Invisible Monitor._ By Mrs. Teachwell
and her Family (Eleanor, Lady Fenn). London. J. Marshall. 1789.

[98] See the _Memoir of Thomas Bewick_ (1862). See also Mr. Austin
Dobson’s account in _Thomas Bewick and His Pupils_ (1884)

[99] _Fables, by the late Mr. Gay._ In one Volume complete. Newcastle, T.
Saint, etc., 1779.

[100] See below—Appendix A. VI.

[101] _The Governess; or the Little Female Academy_, “calculated for the
entertainment and Instruction of Young Ladies in their Education. By the
Author of _David Simple_.” London, printed for A. Millar, over against
Catharine Street in the Strand. The Third Edition, Revised and Corrected,

A second edition had been printed in 1749. Miss Fielding’s novel, _David
Simple_, had appeared in 1744.

[102] _Le Magasin des Enfans, par Madame le Prince de Beaumont._ 2nd ed.
1757. Translated into English in 1767 as _The Young Misses’ Magazine_.
See Appendix A. VI.

[103] _The Village School_, “interspersed with entertaining stories.” By
M. P. 2 vols. Price 1/-. From a list of “New Books for the Instruction
and Amusement of Children”. London, J. Marshall _c._ 1788. (At the back
of a copy of _Primrose Prettyface_, inscribed “Thomas Preston,” with date
March 22nd, 1788). See Appendix A. VI.

[104] _Jemima Placid; or, the Advantage of Good-Nature_, etc. By S. S.
Price 6d. Marshall’s List, _c._ 1788.

[105] See _John Hookham Frere and his Friends_, by Gabrielle Festing.
Nisbet, 1899. Jemima Placid is ascribed in a foot-note to “_Miss Dorothy_

[106] _The Boys’ School; or, Traits of Character in Early Life._ A Moral
Tale by Miss Sandham. London, printed for John Souter at the School
Library, 73 St. Paul’s Churchyard, 1800. See Appendix A. VI.

[107] _The Schoolfellows, a Moral Tale._ By the author of _The Twin
Sisters_, etc. 1818.

[108] _The Academy; or, a Picture of Youth._ London, G. Harris, and
Darton and Harvey. Edinburgh, W. Bury, 1808.

[109] _The Juvenile Spectator_, “Being observations on the Tempers
Manners and Foibles of Various Young Persons. Interspersed with such
lively matter as it is presumed will amuse as well as instruct.” By
Arabella Argus. London, W. & T. Darton, 1810.

[110] For other books by Mrs. Argus, see Appendix A. VI.

[111] A satire on well-known persons of the day, by F. Coventry, 1751.

[112] _Fabulous Histories_, “Designed for the Instruction of Children,
Respecting their Treatment of Animals”. By Mrs. Trimmer. London, Printed
for J. Johnson, etc., J. Harris and others. 1786. Eighth edition
(dedicated to “H.R.H. Princess Sophia”, then a child of nine), 1807.

[113] See _Some Account of the Life and Writings of Mrs. T._ Further
details in Appendix A. VI.

[114] _The Life and Perambulation of a Mouse._ By M. P. 2 vols. Price
1/-. _c._ 1788.

[115] _Keeper’s Travels in Search of his Master._ By Edward Augustus
Kendall. London, E. Newbery, 1798.

[116] See Appendix A. VI.

[117] _The Adventures of a Donkey._ By Arabella Argus, Author of _The
Juvenile Spectator_. London, W. Darton, 1815.

[118] London. J. Harris, 1809. See Appendix A. VI.

[119] _Felissa; or, the Life and Opinions of a Kitten of Sentiment._ J.
Harris, 1811. Reprinted, Methuen, 1903.

[120] _Chrysal; or, the Adventures of a Guinea._ By Charles Johnstone

[121] _The Adventures of a Silver Threepence_, “containing much Amusement
and many Characters with which young Gentlemen and Ladies ought to be
acquainted”. Adorned with cuts. Burslem, J. Tregortha, n.d. (Dutch
flowered bds.) For other “adventures” of things, see Appendix A. VI.

[122] _The Adventures of a Pincushion_, “Designed chiefly for the Use of
Young Ladies”. By S. S. Price 6d., Marshall’s list, _c._ 1788.

[123] Anna Laetitia Aikin (afterwards Mrs. B.). See the Memoir by
A. L. Le Breton, 1874. Her sister Lucy was the author of _Juvenile
Correspondence_ and other children’s books.

[124] _Hymns in Prose for Children_, 1781. This was preceded by Mrs. B.’s
_Lessons for Children_, a first reading-book. (1780).

[125] _Harry Beaufoy; or, The Pupil of Nature_, by Maria Hack (1821), was
written to illustrate Paley’s doctrine.

[126] Mrs. G., the mother of Mrs. Ewing, published her _Parables from
Nature_ between 1855 and 1871.

[127] Published in six volumes (1792-1796) and frequently reprinted
during the nineteenth century.

[128] Written 1805-1806. Published by M. J. Godwin, at the Juvenile
Library, Skinner Street, 1807. 2nd Edition, 1809.

[129] William Betty, “the celebrated Young Roscius”, appeared in Belfast,
Dublin and London, between 1803 and 1805. A “Biographical Sketch” of him,
by G. D. Harley, appeared in 1804.

[130] Published by M. J. Godwin, at the Juvenile Library, Skinner Street,
1808. Mentioned in the European Magazine for November, 1808. See Appendix

[131] _Mrs. Leicester’s School; or, the History of Several Young Ladies,
Related by Themselves._

Written 1808. Published 1809. 2nd edition, 1809. Mentioned in the
_Critical Review_ for December, 1808. See Appendix A. VII.

[132] See the note in “Emily Barton”, Vol. III of the _Works of Charles
and Mary Lamb_, edited by Mr. E. V. Lucas.

[133] See Appendix A. VII.

[134] See _The Family Pen_, edited by Isaac Taylor, Jun., 1867. See
further, Appendix A. VII.

[135] See below, Chapter IX.

[136] Published June, 1816.

[137] From Feb., 1816, to the end of 1822. Collected as “_The
Contributions of Q. Q. to a Periodical Work_”, with some pieces not
before published. By the late Jane Taylor. 2 vols. London. B. J.
Holdsworth, St. Paul’s Churchyard, 1824.

[138] From a letter of J. T.’s, describing her room.

[139] _The Wedding Among the Flowers_ (verse) by Ann Taylor, 1808.

[140] See “Spring Flowers”, No. XXX of _The Contributions of Q. Q._

[141] Martha Mary Butt (afterwards Mrs. Sherwood), 1755-1851. See _The
Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood_, edited by F. J. Harvey Darton. London,

[142] See Appendix A. VII.

[143] Reprinted by Mr. Darton in his _Life and Times of Mrs. S._

[144] _The Infant’s Progress from the Valley of Destruction to
Everlasting Glory._ By Mrs. Sherwood, author of _Little Henry and his
Bearer_, etc., etc. Houlston, 1821. Composed in India, 1814.

[145] _The Governess; or, the Little Female Academy._ “By Mrs. Sherwood.”
See Appendix. A. VII.

[146] _The History of the Fairchild Family; or, the Child’s Manual._
“Being a Collection of Stories calculated to show the Importance and
Effects of a Religious Education”. By Mrs. Sherwood. London. Printed for
J. Hatchard and sold by F. Houlston & Son, Wellington, 1818.

[147] _The Orphan Boy; or, a Journey to Bath._ By Mary Elliott. See
Appendix A. VII.

[148] See Helen Zimmern’s _Maria Edgeworth_, 1883.

[149] Never published, as Holcroft’s translation appeared before it was
ready (1785).

[150] _The Parent’s Assistant; or, Stories for Children._ By “M. E.”
London, Joseph Johnson, St. Paul’s Churchyard. 3 vols. 12 mo. published
in 2 parts. Announced in the _Monthly Review_ for Sept., 1796. See
Appendix A. VIII.

[151] “Waste Not, Want Not; or, Two Strings to Your Bow.” P. A. Vol. III.

[152] “Old Poz” (P. A. Vol. II) was the only play published early.
Others, written between 1808 and 1814, appeared in _Little Plays for
Young People_; “Warranted Harmless”. By Maria Edgeworth. London, Baldwin
& Cradock. 1827. See Appendix A. VIII.

[153] A letter from Maria Edgeworth to Mary Sneyd (March 19, 1803)
describing her visit to Madame de Genlis, suggests a want of sympathy
between them. See Appendix A. VIII.

[154] See Appendix A. VIII.

[155] The two sisters, contrasted with the frivolous Lady Augusta in
“Mademoiselle Panache”.

[156] The first tale of Rosamond: “The Birth-day Present”. (P. A. Vol. I.)

[157] See “The Mimic”. (P. A. Vol. II.)

[158] A remark of Scott’s to Mrs. Davy, quoted in Lockhart’s _Life_.

[159] First edition (2 Vols.) 1801. A continuation in 2 volumes was
published in 1815. See Appendix A. VIII.

[160] _The Botanic Garden; a Poem, in Two Parts._ Part I containing
The Economy of Vegetation. Part II, The Loves of the Plants. With
Philosophical Notes. 1789.

Quoted in Appendix A. VIII.

[161] Begun by Mr. Edgeworth and Mrs. Honora Edgeworth, to follow Mrs.
Barbauld’s _Lessons for Children_. The first part was printed for use in
the family.

[162] _Harry and Lucy_, Vol. II. “Young Travellers.” A piece of pure
nonsense composed by Samuel Foote, comic actor and playwright. (_c._
1720-1777). See Appendix A. VIII.

[163] First edition, 1801.

[164] Madame de Staël made this criticism to M. Dumont.

[165] _Early Lessons_, Vol. II.

[166] See Mr. Edgeworth’s preface to _The Parent’s Assistant_.

[167] _Harry and Lucy_, Vol. III (4th ed. 1846).

[168] Writing from Black Castle, Mrs. Ruxton’s house, in 1803, Miss E.
calls it “this enchanted castle”.

[169] See Mr. Edgeworth’s “Address to Mothers”, _Early Lessons_ (Vol.
III). a list of books which he mentions is given in Appendix A. VIII.

[170] See _The Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth_, edited by A. J. C.

[171] In a letter to C. Sneyd Edgeworth, May 1, 1813.

[172] _Spectator_, No. 477. Sat. Sep. 6. 1712.

[173] MS. Bodl. 832. There is a reprint in the _Babees’ Book_ (E.E.T.S.)

[174] See Bunyan’s _Book for Boys and Girls; or, Country Rhimes for
Children_, 1686. See Appendix A. IX.

[175] See Appendix A. IX.

[176] By William Ronksley, 1712. See Appendix A. IX.

[177] _Divine Songs for Children_, by the Rev. Isaac Watts, D.D., 1715.
_Divine and Moral Songs for Children_, 10th ed., 1729.

[178] “The Butterfly”, by Adelaide O’Keefe. See below. _Original Poems_
by the Taylors and A. O’K.

[179] _Puerilia; or, Amusements for the Young._ “Consisting of a
Collection of Songs adapted to the Fancies and Capacities of those of
tender Years, and taken from their usual Diversions and Employments: also
on Subjects of a more elevated Nature. Divided into three Parts, viz.:
I. Songs for little Misses. II. Songs for little Masters. III. Songs on
Divine, Moral and other Subjects, etc.” By John Marchant, Gent.

London, Printed for P. Stevens and sold by the Booksellers in Town and
Country. 1751.

[180] Preserved in a Balliol MS. Quoted by Mrs. E. M. Field in _The Child
and His Book_.

[181] _Gammer Gurton’s Garland; or, The Nursery Parnassus._ “A choice
Collection of pretty Songs and Verses for the Amusement of all little

Stockton. Christopher and Jennett, n.d.

[182] _Songs for the Nursery_, “collected from the Works of the most
renowned Poets and adapted to favourite national Melodies.” London,
printed for Tabart & Co. at the Juvenile and School Library, 157, New
Bond Street, 1805 (price sixpence).

[183] See Appendix A. IX. for a reference by R. L. Stevenson.

[184] _The Poetical Flower-Basket; or, The Lilliputian Flight to
Parnassus._ price 4d., in Dutch flowered bds. n.d. (_c._ 1780).

[185] Blake’s _Songs of Innocence_ appeared in 1789.

[186] “To a Little Girl That Has Told a Lie”, by Ann Taylor. (Original
Poems, Vol. I. See below.)

[187] From the same: “For a Naughty Little Girl.”

[188] “Idle Mary”. See _Rhymes for the Nursery_. By the authors of
_Original Poems_. London, Darton & Harvey. 1806.

[189] _Original Poems for Infant Minds._ By Several Young Persons.
London, printed for Darton & Harvey. 1804. (7th edition). The authors
were Ann and Jane Taylor and their friend Adelaide O’Keefe.

[190] “The Cow”, in _A Child’s Garden of Verses_, by R. L. Stevenson.

[191] “The Cow”, by Jane Taylor: the first piece in _Rhymes for the

[192] By Adelaide O’Keefe. Compare “The Wind” by R. L. S.

[193] Poems on “Fire”, “Air”, “Earth” and “Water”, by Ann Taylor.
_Original Poems._ Vol. II.

[194] “The Yellow Leaf”, by Ann Taylor.

[195] See Appendix A. IX.

[196] _Poetry for Children_, “Entirely Original. By the Author of Mrs.
Leicester’s School. In 2 Vols. 18 mo., ornamented with two beautiful
Frontispieces. Price 1s. 6d. each, half-bound and lettered.” Published by
Mrs. Godwin in 1809.

See Appendix A. IX.

[197] Printed for Thomas Hodgkins. London, 1805.

[198] See Appendix A. IX.

[199] “The Lame Brother” and “Nursing”.

[200] _Original Poems_, Vol I.

[201] See Appendix A. IX.

[202] “A Penny Plain and Twopence Coloured,” by R. L. S. _Memories and
Portraits._ Paper XIII.

[203] _The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast_, by Mr. Roscoe.
Illustrated with Elegant Engravings. London, Printed for J. Harris,
Successor to E. Newbery, at the Original Juvenile Library, the Corner
of St. Paul’s Churchyard, 1807. Facsimile reprint, with introduction by
Charles Welsh, Griffith and Farran, successors to Harris, 1883.

[204] Mulready, whose history was told in _The Looking-Glass_ (See below,
Appendix A. VIII), was supposed to have drawn these illustrations in his

[205] For this and other sequels to _The Butterfly’s Ball_, see Appendix
A. IX.

[206] _The Daisy; or, Cautionary Stories in Verse_, 1807.

_The Cowslip; or, More Cautionary Stories in Verse_, 1811.

For additions, reprints and imitations, see Appendix A. IX.

[207] _The Rose_, Containing Original Poems for Young People. By their
friend Mary Elliott.

[208] From _Mamma’s Verses; or, Lines for Little Londoners_, said to have
been suggested by _Original Poems_. Brentford, P. Norbury, n.d.

[209] See Appendix A. IX.

[210] See Appendix A. IX.

[211] See Appendix A. IX.

[212] See Appendix A. IX.



[Sidenote: p. 14. 1.]

_List of chap-book romances and tales in order of reference._

(1) Bevis of Southampton.—First English edition, Wynkyn de Worde (a
fragment, n.d.)

    Chap-book: _Sir Bevis of Southampton_, London, n.d.

(2) Guy of Warwick.—First English edition, W. Copland (1548-68).

    Chap-book: _Guy, Earl of Warwick_, n.d. (_c._ 1750).

(3) The Seven Champions of Christendom.—By Richard Johnson (1596).

    Chap-book: London, n.d. (_c._ 1750).

(4) Don Bellianis of Greece.—Earliest edition, 1598. Black Letter.

    Chap-book: The History of Don Bellianis of Greece, London, n.d.
    (_c._ 1780).

(5) The Famous History of Montelyon. By Emanuel Forde (1633).

    Chap-book: The History of Montellion, London, n.d.

(6) Parismus, the Renowned Prince of Bohemia.—1598. Black Letter.

    Chap-book: London, n.d. (_c._ 1760).

(7) The History of Fortunatus.—Stationers’ Register (1615).

    Chap-book: London, n.d. (eighteenth century).

(8) Valentine and Orson.—French edition, 1489. Two editions by W. Copland.

(9) Friar Bacon.—Greene’s play, mentioned in Henslowe’s Diary under the
years 1591-2 was based on an earlier tract. Eighteenth century chap-book:
London, n.d.

(10) The Historyes of Troye.—Caxton, 1477. Folio Black Letter.

    Chap-book: _Hector, Prince of Troy_, London, n.d.

(11) Patient Grissel.—Chap-book: The History of the Marquis of Salus and
Patient Grissel, London, n.d. (_c._ 1750).

(12) The King and the Cobbler.—Chap-book: London, n.d. (King Henry VIII).

(13) The Valiant London Prentice.—“Written for the Encouragement of
Youth” by John Shurley. For J. Back, B.L.

    Chap-book: “Printed for the Hon. Company of Walking
    Stationers”, London, n.d. (after 1780).

(14) _Tom Long the Carrier_ (with woodcut of Tudor pedlar), London, n.d.

(15) “The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus”, a mediæval tale in Caxton’s _Golden

(16) _The History of Laurence Lazy_, London, n.d. (eighteenth century).

(17) _Joseph and his Brethren._—Chap-book: London, n.d.

(18) The Glastonbury Thorn (Joseph of Arimathea).—Wynkyn de Worde, n.d.

    Chap-book: The History of Joseph of Arimathea, n.d. (_c._ 1740).

(19) _The Wandering Jew_, etc.

    Chap-book (dialogue), London, n.d.

[Sidenote: p. 20. 1.]

Another chap-book of this sort is The History of Dr. John Faustus
(Aldermary Churchyard, n.d.).

“A Ballad of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, the Great Congerer”,
was entered in the Stationers’ Register in 1588; and Marlowe produced his
play in 1589.

[Sidenote: p. 22. 1.]

The humour of “topsy-turveydom” dates back to the fourteenth century
_Land of Cockayne_, and survives to-day in nursery-rhymes and “drolls”.
“The Wise Men of Gotham” was still popular in the eighteenth century.
This famous nonsense-book was written by Andrew Boorde, and a Bodleian
copy is dated 1630.

[Sidenote: 2.]

(a) _Memoirs of the late John Kippen_, “to which is added an Elegy on
Peter Duthie, who was for upwards of eighty years a Flying Stationer”.

(b) Mr. R. H. Cunningham, in a note prefixed to his _Amusing Prose
Chap-books_ (1889) gives an account of a book-pedlar, Dougal Graham, who
hawked books among Prince Charlie’s soldiers in the ’45, and afterwards
became an author and printer of chap-books.

[Sidenote: p. 25. 1.]

_The Adventures of Philip Quarll_, by Edward Dorrington (1727) was
probably inspired by _Robinson Crusoe_. It was afterwards used to
illustrate revolutionary theory. See Chapter V.

[Sidenote: p. 26. 1.]

(a)“Chevy Chase”, praised by Sir Philip Sidney for its “trumpet note”,
was included in Dryden’s Miscellanies, 1702, in the Collection of 1723
and in Percy’s Reliques, 1765.

(b) The ballad of “The Two Children in the Wood” was printed in 1597 as
“The Norfolk Gentleman, his Will and Testament”, etc. There is a prose
chap-book of 1700, “to which is annex’d the Old Song upon the same”.

The ballad is included in the collection of 1723.

[Sidenote: p. 27. 1.]

“The Noble Acts of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; with
the Valiant Atchievements of Sir Launcelot du Lake. To the Tune of,
_Flying Fame_”.

The first stanza (of which Falstaff quotes the first line in Henry IV,
Part 2) runs thus:

    “When Arthur first in Court began,
    And was approved King,
    By Force of Arms great Victories won,
    And conquest home did bring”.

The episode is from Malory.

Other ballads based on romances in the Collection of 1723 are: “St.
George and the Dragon”, “The Seven Champions of Christendom”, “The London
Prentice” and “Patient Grissel”.

The Percy Folio includes “King Arthur and the King of Cornwall”, “Sir
Lancelott of Dulake”, “The Marriage of Sir Gawaine”, “Merline”, and “King
Arthur’s Death”.

[Sidenote: p. 30. 1.]

(a) Legendary ballads in the Collection of 1723 include: “Fair Rosamond”,
“King Henry (II) and the Miller of Mansfield”, “Sir Andrew Barton’s
Death”, “King Leir and his Three Daughters”, “Coventry made free by
Godiva”, “The Murther of the Two Princes in the Tower”, “King John and
the Abbot of Canterbury”.

Many others deal with historical themes, such as “The Banishment of the
Dukes of Hereford and Norfolk”, or with famous battles. “King Henry
Fifth’s Conquest of France” probably belongs to the reign of George I.

(b) “The Blind Beggar’s Daughter” was adapted from a favourite
Elizabethan ballad, “Young Monford Riding to the Wars”.

There is a prose chap-book, printed by T. Norris, London, 1715.

[Sidenote: p. 31. 1.]

Other sea-ballads in Child’s collection are:—“The Sweet Trinity”
(or, “The Golden Vanity”).—Pepys, 1682-5; “Captain Ward and the
Rainbow”,—Roxburghe and Aldermary copies; “The Mermaid” (or, “The
Seamen’s Distress”).—Garland of 1765, etc.; “Sir Patrick Spens”.—Percy’s
_Reliques_, 1765, Herd’s _Scottish Songs_, 1769, and Scott’s
_Minstrelsy_, 1803.


[Sidenote: p. 40. 1.]

There is a list of great men given in _The Tatler_ (No. 67), Sept. 13,
1709; and in No. 78, one Lemuel Ledger writes to put Mr. Bickerstaff in
mind of “Alderman Whittington, who began the World with a Cat and died
with three hundred and fifty thousand Pounds sterling”.

_The Spectator_ (No. 5) March 6, 1711, says that “there was once a Design
of casting into an Opera the Story of Whittington and his Cat, but that
Mr. Rich abandoned the Idea for Fear of being overrun by Mice which the
Cat could not kill.”

Suspicion seems to have been cast on the cat in the second half of the
century, and it is interesting to find Goldsmith (“On Education”, 1759)
advocating instead of romances “the old story of Whittington, _were his
cat left out_” as “more serviceable to the tender mind than either Tom
Jones, Joseph Andrews, or a hundred others, where frugality is the only
good quality the hero is not possessed of”.

Mr. Wheatley in his _Chap-books and Folk-lore Tracts_, notes that in 1771
the Rev. Samuel Pegge brought the subject of Whittington and his Cat
before the Society of Antiquaries, “but he could make nothing at all of
the Cat”.

[Sidenote: p. 48. 1.]

Other early editions of the Arabian Tales: 1712 and 1724.

The translation of the _Arabian Nights_ was followed by English versions
of Pétis de la Croix.

_The Persian Tales, or the Thousand and One Days_ appeared in 1714, and
was followed in the same year by _The Persian and Turkish Tales Compleat_.

The pseudo-translations of Gueullette were translated into English in
1725, as _The Chinese Tales, or the Wonderful Adventures of the Mandarin

[Sidenote: p. 56. 1.]

Moralised ballad-stories:—

(a) Robin Hood, J. Harris, London, n.d. (_c._ 1807).

(b) _The Tragical History of the Children in the Wood_, “containing a
true Account of their unhappy Fate, with the History of their Parents and
their unnatural Uncle. Interspersed with Morals for the Instruction of
Children. To which is added the favourite Song of the Babes in the Wood.
Embellished with Cuts.” London, n.d.

(c) _The Children in the Wood_ (_Restored by Honestus_). J. G. Rusher,
Banbury, ½d. (_c._ 1810).


[Sidenote: p. 60. 3.]

“According to Act of Parliament (neatly bound and gilt) a little Pretty
Pocket Book, intended for the Instruction and Amusement of little Master
Tommy and pretty Miss Polly, with an agreeable Letter to read from Jack
the Giant-Killer, and also a Ball and Pincushion, the Use of which will
infallibly make Tommy a good Boy and Polly a good Girl”, etc.

[Sidenote: p. 62. 1.]

_The Philosophy of Tops and Balls_ is explained as “The Newtonian
System of Philosophy adapted to the Capacities of Young Gentlemen and
Ladies, and made entertaining by Objects with which they are intimately

[Sidenote: 3.]

_The Lilliputian Magazine; or, the Young Gentleman and Lady’s Golden

From the preface:—“the Authors concerned in this little Book have planned
out a Method of Education very different from what has hitherto been
offered to the Public: and more agreeable and better adapted to the
tender Capacities of Children”.

[Sidenote: p. 64. 1.]

In Mr. John Newbery’s list for 1762, _A Pretty Book of Pictures for
little Masters and Misses_ has the alternative title of “Tommy Trip’s
History of Beasts and Birds, with a familiar Description of each in Verse
and Prose”.

To this was added “The History of little Tom Trip himself, his Dog
Jowler, and of Woglog the Great Giant”.

This was the earliest edition known to Mr. Welsh; but an edition of 1752
was afterwards discovered and noted in _The Times Literary Supplement_,
Dec. 18, 1919, under “Notes on Sales”. This seems to be the first edition
of _Tommy Trip’s History_; but an earlier account of him is given in
_The Lilliputian Magazine_, first advertised in 1751. Goldsmith came to
London after his travels on the Continent, in 1756, so that he could not
have written _Tommy Trip_, although the rhyme of “Three Children”, as Mr.
Welsh observed, is remarkably like the “Elegy on a Mad Dog”.

[Sidenote: 2.]

_Note on Novels and Plays abridged or adapted for children_:—

Among these were _Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded_, with a prefatory address
“To the Parents, Guardians and Governesses of Great Britain and Ireland”.
(E. Newbury’s list, 1789); and _Tom Jones, the Foundling_ (the story of
his childhood only), published about 1814 by Pitts of Seven Dials, with a
foreword to the “little Friends” for whom it was designed.

Plays were also fashioned into children’s books. Garrick’s Masque from
Dryden’s _King Arthur_ (1770) produced a “Lilliputian” romance closely
modelled on Dryden: _The Eventful History of King Arthur; or, the British
Worthy_. London, printed for H. Roberts & W. Nicholl. Price 6d., in Dutch
paper boards. (A.S. Kensington copy is dated 1782.)

Early in the 19th century, the story of _Cymbeline_ was published as _The
Entertaining History of Palidore and Fidele_, in flowered covers, for
the “amusement and instruction of youth”.

[Sidenote: p. 65. 1.]

(a) _Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book_. Vol. II. “Sold by M. Cooper,
according to Act of Parliament”.

The frontispiece shows a boy playing a flute and two girls seated with
a book of songs. At the foot of each page is a musical direction:
“Recitatio”, “Toccato”, “Vere Subito”, etc. At the end are two cuts, one
a portrait of the writer “Nurse Lovechild”, the other advertising _The
Child’s Plaything_, with the date 1744, and the following rhyme:—

    “The Child’s Plaything
      I recommend for cheating
    Children into Learning
      Without any Beating.”

(b) The author of _The Little Master’s Miscellany_ (1743) condemns the
popular song-books, and instead of these, provides children with moral
dialogues, “On Lying”, “On Fishing”, “On Death”, “On Detraction”, “On the
Tulip”, etc.

(c) John Marchant in his _Puerilia; or, Amusements for the Young_ (1753)
offers a better substitute for the “Ribaldry” which he complains that
children are “instructed to con and get by Heart” as soon as they can
read,—“to trill it with their little Voices in every Company where they
are introduced”.

See above.—Chapter IX.

[Sidenote: 2.]

_Mother Goose’s Melody; or, Sonnets for the Cradle_, in Two Parts. “Part
I.—The most celebrated Songs and Lullabies of the old British Nurses,
calculated to amuse the Children and excite them to sleep; Part II.—Those
of that sweet Songster and Muse of Art and Humours, Master William
Shakespeare. Adorned with Cuts and illustrated with Notes and Maxims,
historical, philosophical and critical.”

The addition, in Part II, of Shakespeare’s songs makes a fitting sequel
for older children.

A facsimile of the New England edition of 1785 was printed in 1892, with
the following description:—

“The original Mother Goose’s Melody, as issued by John Newbery of
London, _circa_ 1760; Isaiah Thomas of Worcester, Mass., _circa_ 1785,
and Munro and Francis of Boston, _circa_ 1825. Reproduced in facsimile
from the first Worcester edition, with introduction and notes by William
H. Whitmore. To which are added the Fairy Tales of Mother Goose, first
collected by Perrault in 1696, reprinted from the original translation
into English by R. Samber in 1729. Boston and London,—Griffith, Farran &
Co., 1892.”

(b) Another early book of rhymes is _The Top Book of all for little
Masters and Misses_, “Containing the choicest Stories, prettiest Poems
and most diverting Riddles, all wrote by Nurse Lovechild, Mother Goose,
Jacky Nory, Tommy Thumb and other eminent Authors ... also enriched with
curious and lovely Pictures, done by the top Hands, and is sold only at
R. Baldwin’s and S. Crowder’s, Booksellers in Pater Noster Row, London,
and at Benjamin Collins’s in Salisbury for 2d. (Date, on woodcut of a
shilling, 1760).”

(c) A later Miscellany, _Mirth without Mischief_ _c._ 1790, has similar

[Sidenote: p. 67. 1.]

A third edition of _Goody Two-Shoes_ appeared in 1766, in Dutch
flowered boards, “printed for J. Newbery at the Bible and Sun in St.
Paul’s Churchyard. Price 6d.” This was reproduced in facsimile with an
introduction by Charles Welsh, by Griffith and Farran, successors to
Newbery and Harris, in 1881.

Later editions: 1770.—T. Carnan & F. Newbery, Jun.; 1783.—T. Carnan;
1786—Isaiah Thomas, Worcester, Mass. (First Worcester ed.); 1793.—Darton
& Harvey, Gracechurch St.; 1796 (with MS. note by Mr. J. Winter Jones),
32 mo.

Penny chap-book edition (_c._ 1815).—J. Pitts, Seven Dials: “The Toy and
Marble Warehouse”. Many “modernised” editions were printed during the
19th century; the last recorded, in 1884; and G.T.S. was included in
Charlotte Yonge’s _Storehouse of Stories_ (1870).

[Sidenote: p. 68. 1.]

(a) From Carnan’s list, 1787.—“The Valentine’s Gift; or, the whole
History of Valentine’s Day, containing the Way to preserve Truth, Honour
and Integrity unshaken. Very necessary in a trading Nation. Price
sixpence, bound.”

A later edition (Kendrew, Glasgow, _c._ 1814) in the S. Kensington
collection, has significant additions:—

“The Valentine Gift; or, a Plan to enable children _of all Denominations_
to behave with Honour, Integrity and Humanity. To which is added some
Account of old Zigzag, and of the Horn which he used to understand the
Language of Birds, Beasts, Fishes and Insects. The Lord who made thee
made the Creatures also; thou shalt be merciful and kind unto them, for
they are thy fellow Tenants of the Globe.—Zoroaster.”

(b) _The Twelfth Day Gift_ (advertised April 18, 1767). The title-page of
the 1783 edition is as follows:—

“The Twelfth Day Gift; or, the Grand Exhibition, containing a curious
Collection of Pieces in Prose and Verse (many of them Originals) which
were delivered to a numerous and polite Audience on the important
Subjects of Religion, Morality, History, Philosophy, Polity, Prudence and
Economy, at the most noble the Marquis of Setstar’s by a Society of young
Gentlemen and Ladies, and registered at their request by their old Friend
Mr. Newbery. With which are intermixed some occasional Reflections and a
Narrative containing the Characters and Behaviour of the several Persons

    Example draws where Precept fails
    And Sermons are less read than Tales.

London: Printed for T. Carnan, Successor to Mr. J. Newbery in St. Paul’s
Church Yard. Price one shilling.”

In an enveloping cautionary story, there is some account of a gigantic
Twelfth Day Cake; but the book consists chiefly of “Pieces”, which
include the story of “Inkle and Yarico”, taken by Addison from Ligon’s
_Account of Barbados (Spectator_, No. 11), “versified by a Lady”,
Addison’s hymns; Pope’s Universal Prayer; “The Progress of Life”, an
Eastern story from the _Rambler_; Parnell’s “Hermit”; the character of
Antiope from Fénélon’s _Telemachus_, translated in 1742, and the King’s
speech to Westmoreland (Henry V. iv. 3), a sign of the revived interest
in Shakespeare.

This is almost a perfect specimen of the Lilliputian Miscellany.

[Sidenote: p. 76. 1.]

From Nichols’s _Literary Anecdotes_ (1812-16):—“It is not perhaps
generally known that to Mr. Griffith Jones, and a brother of his, Mr.
Giles Jones, in conjunction with Mr. John Newbery, the public are
indebted for the origin of those numerous and popular little books for
the amusement and instruction of children which have been ever since
received with universal approbation. The Lilliputian histories of Goody
Two-Shoes, Giles Ginger-bread, Tommy Trip, etc., etc., are remarkable
proofs of the benevolent minds of the projectors of this plan of
instruction, and respectable instances of the accommodation of superior
talents to the feeble intellects of infantine felicity.”

[Sidenote: 2.]

Examples of grammatical faults in _Goody Two-Shoes_:—

Ch. vi.—“She was in Hopes he _would have went_ to the Clerk.”

Ch. viii.—“Therefore she laid very still.”

Part II. Ch. iii.—“Does not the Horse and the Ass carry you and your
Burthens; don’t the Ox plough your Ground?”

John Newbery’s private memoranda show mistakes of the same kind.

[Sidenote: 3.]

(a) John Newbery died in 1767, when the business was divided into two
branches, one under his son Francis, in partnership with T. Carnan, the
other under Francis Newbery the nephew, whose widow Elizabeth succeeded
him in 1780. T. Carnan afterwards set up on his own account.

(b) In the curious “appendix” to _Goody Two-Shoes_, there is “an Anecdote
respecting Tom Two-Shoes, communicated by a Gentleman who is now
writing the History of his Life”. This is the chief incident in _Tommy
Two-Shoes_, published at the close of the century by Wilson and Spence of

Imitations only mark the distinction of the Newbery books. Many were
published by John Marshall (_c._ 1780). These include _The Orphan; or,
the Entertaining History of Little Goody Goosecap_; and _The Renowned
History of Primrose Prettyface_, “who, by her Sweetness of Temper and
Love of Learning, was raised from being the Daughter of a poor Cottager,
to great Riches and the Dignity of Lady of the Manor.... London, printed
in the Year when all little Boys and Girls should be good”, etc.

One copy is inscribed “Thos. Preston, March 22nd, 1788”. If this be the
date of purchase, the book may be earlier; but it may be the date of the
child’s birth.

[Sidenote: 4.]

“The Lilliputian Masquerade: recommended to the Perusal of those Sons
and Daughters of Folly, the Frequenters of the Pantheon, Almack’s and
Cornelly’s. Embellished with Cuts, for the Instruction and Amusement of
the rising Generation. Price of a Subscription Ticket, not Two Guineas,
but Two Pence”.—Carnan’s List for 1787.

The Masquerade was “occasioned by the Conclusion of Peace between those
potent Nations the Lilliputians and Tommy-thumbians”, after a quarrel
“concerning an Affair of no less Importance than whether, when a Cat
wagged her Tail, it was a Sign of fair or foul Weather”; and the Peace
had been made by “an old Lady _whose Name was Reason_”.

A later edition in Dutch paper covers (probably after 1800) published by
P. Norbury at Brentford, has no reference to the Pantheon, etc., but is
recommended by the couplet:

    “Behind a Mask you’ll something find
    To please and to improve the mind.”

[Sidenote: p. 78. 2.]

First Worcester edition: _The Juvenile Biographer_, “containing the
Lives of little Masters and Misses. Including a Variety of Good and Bad
Characters. By a little Biographer.... Worcester, Mass. Printed by Isaiah
Thomas and sold at his Book Store. Sold also by E. Battelle, Boston,

[Sidenote: p. 81. 1.]

_Juvenile Correspondence_; “or, Letters designed as Examples of
Epistolary Style, for Children of both Sexes”. By Lucy Aikin. 2nd
Edition. London, for Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, Paternoster Row, and R.
Hunter, St. Paul’s Churchyard, 1816.

Miss Aikin’s aim was to supply children with “juvenile equivalents of
Gray, Cowper and Lady Mary Wortley Montague”; but the influence of Mrs.
Barbauld adds natural touches not found in “Lilliputian” books.

[Sidenote: p. 82. 1.]

_A Father’s Memoirs of his Child_, by Benjamin Heath Malkin (1806),
contains letters written by a child from his third to his seventh year

The little boy, Thomas Williams Malkin, born in October, 1795, died
when he was seven. His father, beginning the _Memoirs_, says: “It is not
intended to run a parallel of his infancy with that of Addison in his
assumed character of Spectator, who ‘threw away his rattle before he was
two months old, and would not make use of his coral until they had taken
away the bells from it’”; but the disclaimer proves that he was conscious
of the parallel.

On his own showing, he had made the child into a “little Philosopher” who
never had so much as a rattle to throw away, whose first toy was a box
of letters. The boy’s letters show a pathetic struggle between natural
simplicity and the artificial system on which he was being trained. Some
are more precocious and pedantic than any in _Juvenile Correspondence_.

The tendency of parents to encourage stilted “epistolary patterns” was
shown earlier in the childish letters of Mrs. Trimmer (See _The Life and
Writings of Mrs. T._)

[Sidenote: p. 83. 2.]

Canning deals with the Newbery books much as Addison does with the
ballads, though Canning’s classical parallels are not serious. He
begins by recommending to novel-readers, instead of “the studies which
usually engross their attention”, the “instructive and entertaining
Histories of Mr. Thomas Thumb, Mr. John Hickathrift and sundry other
celebrated Worthies; a true and faithful account of whose adventures and
atchievements may be had by the Curious and the Public in general, price
two-pence gilt, at Mr. Newbery’s, St. Paul’s Churchyard, and at some
other Gentleman’s whose name I do not now recollect, the _Bouncing B.,
Shoe-Lane_”. (This refers to John Marshall’s sign of the “Great A and
Bouncing B”.)

He identifies “Tom Thumb” with Perrault’s “Little Thumb”, and draws
a parallel between that hero and Ulysses; and between the Ogre and
Polyphemus, comparing the incidents in a mock-heroic vein. There is no
trace of the “Lilliputian” Hickathrift which he mentions.

[Sidenote: p. 84. 1.]

“Jemmy” Catnach, and “Johnny” Pitts of the “Toy and Marble Warehouse”,
were rival printers of ballads and chap-books in Seven Dials.

Catnach’s nursery books include rhymed versions of Perrault’s Tales,
_The Butterfly’s Ball_, _The Tragical Death of an Apple Pie_ (a very old
alphabet rhyme) and various “gifts”. (See Charles Hindley’s _History of
the Catnach Press_, 1886.)

Pitts printed a penny edition of _Goody Two-Shoes_ (_c._ 1815). His
farthing books include _Simple Simon_ and other nursery rhymes.

John Evans, another Seven Dials printer, also published a farthing series
including _Dick Whittington_, _Cock Robin_ and _Mother Hubbard_. (See
Edwin Pearson’s _Banbury Chap-books_, etc., 1890.)


[Sidenote: p. 91. 1.]

Armand Berquin was born in France in 1749. He refused an appointment
as tutor to the son of Louis XVI. Towards the end of his life he was
denounced as a Girondist, and driven into exile. He died in 1791.

Mr. Charles Welsh gives a most interesting account of him in his
introduction to the reprint of _The Looking-Glass for the Mind_,
published by Griffith, Farran, Okeden and Welsh, 1885.

[Sidenote: p. 100. 1.]

Mrs. Pilkington, writing “on the Plan of that celebrated work _Les
Veillées du Château_, by Madame de Genlis”, produced _Tales of the
Cottage; or Stories Novel and Amusing for Young Persons_, printed for
Vernor & Hood in the Poultry, and sold by E. Newbery, 1799.

She was the wife of a naval doctor, and became governess to a family
of orphans, for whom she wrote. Other books published for her by E.
Newbery include _Biography for Boys_, 1808; _Biography for Girls_, 1809;
_Marvellous Adventures; or the Vicissitudes of a Cat_, and a translation
(abridged) of Marmontel’s _Contes Moraux_.

[Sidenote: p. 102. 1.]

_Le Théâtre d’Education_ was followed, in England, by Hannah More’s
_Sacred Dramas_ (1782).

Moral plays by the German Rousseauists, Engel and Weisse, were translated
in _The Juvenile Dramatist_ (1801), and _Dramas for Children_, imitated
from the French of L. F. Jauffret, by the Editor of Tabart’s _Popular
Stories_, was printed for M. J. Godwin, at the Juvenile Library, Skinner
Street, in 1809. The table of contents includes “The Curious Girl;” “The
Dangers of Gossipping”; “The Fib Found Out”; “The Little Coxcomb”.

These educational dramas are no more dramatic than the average moral
tale. They may be regarded as a result of Rousseau’s realism, an effort
on the part of educators to use the dramatic instincts of children to
impress the lesson.


[Sidenote: p. 106. 1.]

Thomas Day (1748-1789) was educated at the Charter House and Corpus
Christi College, Oxford. He was an intimate friend of Richard Lovell
Edgeworth, although he had paid his addresses in turn to Honora and
Elizabeth Sneyd, afterwards the second and third Mrs. Edgeworth.

Day was a member of Dr. Darwin’s literary circle at Lichfield, and was
the author of verses and political pamphlets. The third edition of his
poem “The Dying Negro” was dedicated to Jean Jacques Rousseau.

[Sidenote: p. 113. 2.]

_The History of Prince Lee Boo_ (1789) is an early example of this
interest in coloured races. Children’s books of the early nineteenth
century include many stories of the Slave Trade and adventures of
Negroes. Some of the most popular were _The Adventures of Congo_ (1823);
Mary Ann Hedge’s _Samboe; or, the African Boy_ (1823); _Radama; or, the
Enlightened African_ (1824).

[Sidenote: p. 114. 1.]

Third edition, 1759; new version in _The Children’s Miscellany_, 1787;
Children’s chap-book in Dutch flowered boards, _c._ 1789: _The English
Hermit; or, The Adventures of Philip Quarll_, “who was lately discovered
by Mr. Dorrington, a Bristol Merchant, upon an uninhabited Island, where
he has lived above fifty years, without any human assistance, still
continues to reside and will not come away. Adorned with cuts and a Map
of the Island”. London, John Marshall. Price Six Pence bound and gilt.
(Inscribed “Margaret H. Haskoll, (Au. 14th, 1789).”) Other editions:
1795, 1807, 1816.

The 1807 edition, repeated in Newcastle, York and Banbury chap-books, has
cuts attributed to Bewick.


[Sidenote: p. 124. 1.]

_The Life and Adventures of a Fly_, “supposed to have been written by
himself”. Price Sixpence. (E. Newbery’s list, 1789.)

Another edition, with cuts by John Bewick, was printed in 1790 (_Bewick

[Sidenote: p. 125. 2.]

_The Young Misses’ Magazine_ was reviewed in the _Critical Review_, Aug.,
1757. It consists of “Dialogues of a wise Governess with her Pupils”, and
was almost certainly inspired by Miss Fielding’s _Governess_. The studies
of Madame de Beaumont’s pupils, under the names of _Ladi Sensée_, _Ladi
Spirituelle_, _Ladi Tempête_, etc., although they represent types, are
made from life.

Madame de Beaumont also wrote “_Moral Tales_”, designed to counteract
supposed dangers in Richardson’s novels. “The whole,” she says, “is
drawn from the pure source of Nature, which never fails to move the

[Sidenote: p. 127. 1.]

Other books by “M. P.” include:

_Anecdotes of a Boarding School_, _Anecdotes of a Little Family_, and
_Letters from a Mother to her Children_.

See below:—“Adventures” of things, by “S. S.”

[Sidenote: p. 131. 1.]

Other stories by Elizabeth Sandham are:

_The Happy Family at Eason House_, 1822; _The History of Elizabeth
Woodville_, 1822; _The Orphan_, n.d. and _The Twin Sisters_, n.d.

[Sidenote: p. 133. 2.]

Other books by Arabella Argus:

_The Adventures of a Donkey_ (1815); _Further Adventures of a Donkey_
(1821); _Ostentation and Liberality_ (1821).

[Sidenote: p. 136. 1.]

(a) On the occasion of a literary dispute at Reynolds’s house, Mrs.
Trimmer, then Miss Kirby, fifteen years old, produced from her pocket a
copy of _Paradise Lost_. Johnson marked his appreciation of the incident
as recorded above.

(b) From 1802 to 1804, Mrs. Trimmer edited _The Guardian of Education_
(published monthly) which exercised a kind of censorship over children’s
books. A reference by Mrs. T. to Perrault’s _Tales_, which she had read
as a child, called forth the criticism of a correspondent who denounced
“Cinderella” in particular as encouraging envy, jealousy, vanity and
other evil passions in children. Mrs. Trimmer’s principles forced her to
agree with this stern moralist.

[Sidenote: p. 140. 2.]

Bird stories by Mr. Kendall include:

_The Crested Wren._ E. Newbery, 1799; _The Swallow_. E. Newbery, 1800;
_The Sparrow and The Canary Bird_ are also mentioned in _The Stories of
Senex; or, Little Histories of Little People_, by the same author.

[Sidenote: p. 141. 2.]

Elizabeth Sandham also wrote:

_The Adventures of a Bullfinch._ J. Harris, 1809.

and _The Perambulations of a Bee and a Butterfly_, 1812.

[Sidenote: p. 144. 2.]

Other “adventures” of things:

_The Adventures of a Silver Penny._ Price 6d. E. Newbery. (Advertised
in the London Chronicle, Dec. 21-29, 1787, “just published”); _The
Adventures of a Doll_, by Mary Mister, 1816; _Memoirs of a Peg Top_, by
S. S. Author of _The Adventures of a Pincushion_. Marshall’s list, _c._


[Sidenote: p. 155. 1.]

In the preface to _The Adventures of Ulysses_, Lamb says: “This work
is designed as a supplement to the Adventures of Telemachus”; and in a
letter to Manning (1808) he says it is “intended as an introduction to
the reading of Telemachus”.

Fénélon’s _Télémaque_ (1699) which, like his _Fables_ and _Dialogues
des Morts_, was written for his pupil, the grandson of Louis XIV, was
translated into English in 1742. It is a kind of sequel to the fourth
book of the _Odyssey_, describing the further adventures of Telemachus in
search of his father. Fénélon turned his “adventures” into a moral tale,
and Lamb, in his preface, also lays stress on the moral of his book.

[Sidenote: p. 156. 1.]

At the back of the third edition of _Mrs. Leicester’s School_ is a
list of “new books for children”, published by M. J. Godwin, at the
Juvenile Library, Skinner Street. Many of these are school texts, some by
Godwin, writing under his pseudonym of “Edward Baldwin”. Others include
the _Tales from Shakespear_; the _Adventures of Ulysses_; _Poetry for
Children_; _Stories of Old Daniel_; _Dramas for Children_, from the
French of L. F. Jauffret; Mrs. Fenwick’s _Lessons for Children_ (a sequel
to Mrs. Barbauld’s); and Lamb’s _Prince Dorus_.

_Stories of Old Daniel_, which has been attributed to Lamb, has the
alternative title “_or Tales of Wonder and Delight_”. It contains
“Narratives of Foreign Countries and Manners”, and was “designed as an
Introduction to the study of Voyages, Travels and History in General”: a
sufficient proof that Lamb had nothing to do with it.

[Sidenote: p. 161. 2.]

The passage in “Susan Yates” runs thus:

“Sometimes indeed, on a fine dry Sunday, my father would rise early, and
take a walk to the village, just to see how _goodness thrived_, as he
used to say, but he would generally return tired, and the worse for his

Mr. Lucas points out that Charles Lamb’s father came from Lincolnshire,
and that the saying was probably his.

[Sidenote: 3.]

Isaac Taylor, the father, was the author of several moral and instructive
tales for youth.

Jefferys Taylor, the brother of Jane and Ann, wrote _Æsop in Rhyme_
(1820); _Harry’s Holiday_ (1822); and other books for children.

[Sidenote: p. 170. 1.]

(a) Some of Mrs. Sherwood’s most popular books were: _Little Henry and
his Bearer_ (her first book) _c._ 1815; _The History of Henry Milner_ (4
parts) 1822-1836; _The Little Woodman and his Dog Cæsar_ (1819).

Many of the chap-books were written for stock illustrations.

(b) Mrs. Cameron, Mrs. Sherwood’s sister, was also a prolific writer of
children’s chap-books; but these are undistinguished in style and matter.
(See B. M. collections under title: “Cameron’s Tales”.)

[Sidenote: p. 171. 1.]

The introduction to Mrs. Sherwood’s version of _The Governess_ states
that “the little volume was published before the middle of the last
century, and is said to have been written by a sister of the celebrated

[Sidenote: p. 172. 1.]

Mary Elliott (afterwards Mrs. Belson), a Quaker, wrote many other tales
for children. Among these are: _Precept and Example_ (_c._ 1812); _The
Modern Goody Two Shoes_ (_c._ 1818); _The Adventures of Thomas Two
Shoes_: “being a sequel to the Modern G. T. S.” (_c._ 1818); _The Rambles
of a Butterfly_ (1819); _Confidential Memoirs, or the Adventures of a
Parrot, a Greyhound, a Cat and a Monkey_ (1821).

Priscilla Wakefield, another Quaker, was the author of _Mental
Improvement_, _The Juvenile Travellers_ and other instructive books.


[Sidenote: p. 176. 2.]

The Stories in _The Parent’s Assistant_ (1845) are:—

Vol. I. Lazy Laurence; Tarlton; The False Key; The Birth-day Present;
Simple Susan.

Vol. II. The Bracelets; The Little Merchants; Old Poz; The Mimic;
Mademoiselle Panache.

Vol. III. The Basket Woman; The White Pigeon; The Orphans; Waste Not,
Want Not; Forgive and Forget; The Barring Out; or, Party Spirit; Eton

A modern edition, with an introduction by Anne Thackeray Ritchie, was
published by Macmillan in 1903; and a selection, _Tales from Maria
Edgeworth_, with an introduction by Mr. Austin Dobson (Wells, Gardner,
Darton & Co.), appeared in the same year.

[Sidenote: p. 180. 1.]

_Little Plays_ (1827) contains “The Grinding Organ” (written May, 1808);
“Dumb Andy” (written in 1814) and “The Dame School Holiday”.

“Old Poz” and “Eton Montem” in _The Parent’s Assistant_, are also in
dialogue form.

[Sidenote: 2.]

From the letter to Mrs. Ruxton (March 19, 1803), describing a visit to
Madame de Genlis in Paris:

(a) “... She looked like the full-length picture of my
great-great-grandmother Edgeworth you may have seen in the garret,
very thin and melancholy, but her face not so handsome as my
great-grandmother’s; dark eyes, long sallow cheeks, compressed thin lips,
two or three black ringlets on a high forehead, a cap that Mrs. Grier
might wear,—altogether an appearance of fallen fortunes, worn-out health,
and excessive, but guarded irritability.”

(b) From the same letter:

“... Forgive me, my dear Aunt Mary, you begged me to see her with
favourable eyes, and I went to see her after seeing her ‘Rosière de
Salency’” (a play in the _Théâtre d’Education_) “with the most favourable
disposition, but I could not like her.”

At this time it would seem that the old countess was soured by neglect
and disappointment.

[Sidenote: 3.]

The school stories in the _P. A._ are: “The Bracelets” (an early story
of a girls’ school); “The Barring Out” and “Eton Montem”, both theoretic
studies of schoolboys.

[Sidenote: p. 183. 1.]

The four volumes of _E. L._ contain the following stories:

Vol. I. The Little Dog Trusty; The Cherry Orchard; Frank.

Vol. II. Rosamond; Harry and Lucy.

Vol. III. The Continuation of Frank and part of the Continuation of

Vol. IV. The Continuation of Rosamond and of Harry and Lucy.

These were followed by _Rosamond: a Sequel to Rosamond in “Early
Lessons”_. 2 vols., 1821; and _Frank: a Sequel to Frank in “Early
Lessons”_. 3 vols, 1822.

[Sidenote: p. 184. 1.]

Dr. Darwin attempted to deal poetically with matter of Science; but his
couplets show all the worst features of eighteenth century verse. The
passage quoted in _Frank_ (E. L., Vol. I.) runs thus:—

    “Stay thy soft murmuring waters, gentle rill;
    Hush, whispering winds; ye rustling leaves, be still;
    Rest, silver butterflies, your quivering wings;
    Alight, ye beetles, from your airy rings;
    Ye painted moths, your gold-eyed plumage furl,
    Bow your wide horns, your spiral trunks uncurl;
    Glitter, ye glow-worms, on your mossy beds;
    Descend, ye spiders, on your lengthen’d threads;
    Slide here, ye horned snails with varnish’d shells;
    Ye bee nymphs, listen in your waxen cells.”

[Sidenote: p. 187. 1.]

The lines, repeated to test Harry’s power of attention, are these:—

    “So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf, to make
    an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear coming
    up the street, pops its head into the shop. ‘What! No soap?’
    So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and
    there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the
    Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little
    round button at top; and they all fell to playing the game of
    catch as catch can, till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of
    their boots.”

“The Great Panjandrum Himself” was later “pictured” as a schoolmaster in
cap and gown, by Randolph Caldecott.

[Sidenote: p. 192. 1.]

Children’s books recommended by Mr. Edgeworth in his “Address to Mothers”
(E. L. Vol. III):—

“Fabulous Histories”; “Evenings at Home”; Berquin’s “Children’s Friend”;
“Sandford and Merton”; “Little Jack”; “The Children’s Miscellany”; “Bob
the Terrier”; “Dick the Pony”; “The Book of Trades”; “The Looking-glass,
or History of a Young Artist”; “Robinson Crusoe”; “The Travels of
Rolando”; “Mrs. Wakefield on Instinct”; _parts_ of White’s Natural
History of Selborne; and _parts_ of Smellie’s Philosophy of Natural

_The Dog of Knowledge; or Memoirs of Bob the Spotted Terrier_ (1801) and
_Dick the Pony_ were by the same author.

_The Book of Trades_ is a modern equivalent of _Dives Pragmaticus_ (see

_The Looking-glass_, etc., by “Theo Marcliffe”, is the story of the early
life of Mulready the painter, written by Godwin under this pseudonym.


[Sidenote: p. 195. 2.]

A revised and abridged edition of Bunyan’s “Rhimes” appeared in 1701,
under the title: _A Book for Boys and Girls; or, Temporal Things

A ninth edition was published in 1724 under the new title _Divine
Emblems; or, Temporal Things Spiritualised_.

[Sidenote: 3.]

_A Little Book for Little Children_, “wherein are set down in a plain
and pleasant Way, Directions for Spelling and other remarkable Matters.
Adorned with Cuts. By T. W.” (Thomas White).

London, printed for G. O. and sold at the King in Little Britain.

[Sidenote: p. 196. 1.]

_The Child’s Week’s Work_; “or, A Little Book so nicely suited to the
Genius and Capacity of a little Child, both for Matter and Method, that
it will infallibly allure and lead him into a Way of Reading, with all
the Ease and Expedition that can be desired.” By William Ronksley.
London, printed for G. Conyers and J. Richardson in Little Britain, 1712.

[Sidenote: p. 201. 2.]

R. L. Stevenson quotes this rhyme in the lines “To Minnie” (_A Child’s
Garden of Verses_, pp. 130-1):

    “Our phantom voices haunt the air
    As we were still at play;
    And I can hear them call and say:
    ‘_How far is it to Babylon?_’

    “Ah far enough, my dear,
    Far, far enough from here—
    Yet you have farther gone!
    ‘_Can I get there by candlelight?_’

    “So goes the old refrain.
    I do not know—perchance you might—
    But only children hear it right,
    Ah, never to return again!

    “The eternal dawn, beyond a doubt,
    Shall break on hill and plain,
    And put all stars and candles out,
    Ere we be young again.”

[Sidenote: p. 206. 2.]

Few of the themes are original. Two by Adelaide O’Keefe, “The Boys and
the Apple Tree” and “The Vine”, are verse readings of stories in _The
Looking Glass for the Mind_. So also is “The Two Gardens” by Ann Taylor.

[Sidenote: p. 208. 1.]

_Poetry for Children_ was praised in the _Monthly Review_ for Jan., 1811,
but soon went out of print. The original edition was lost sight of until
1877, when it was sent from Australia “a courteous and most welcome
gift from the Hon. William Sandover” to Mr. R. H. Shepherd. (See the
Introduction to Mr. Shepherd’s reprint.—Chatto & Windus, 1878.)

In the meantime, twenty-two of the pieces had been preserved in a _First
Book of Poetry_ printed by W. F. Mylius, a master at Christ’s Hospital,
“For the Use of Schools. Intended as Reading Lessons for the Younger
Classes.” This was mentioned in the _Monthly Review_ for April, 1811.

[Sidenote: p. 209. 2.]

The following poems were reprinted in the 1818 edition of Lamb’s Works:—

“To a River in which a Child was Drowned”; “The Three Friends”; “Queen
Oriana’s Dream”.

[Sidenote: p. 216. 1.]

Lamb says that Martin Burney read _Clarissa_ in snatches at a book-stall,
until discouraged by the stall-keeper. He adds: “A quaint poetess of
our day has moralised upon this subject in two very touching but homely

[Sidenote: p. 219. 1.]

(a) _The Peacock “At Home.”_ “A Sequel to the Butterfly’s Ball. Written
by a Lady and illustrated with elegant engravings”. Harris, successor to
E. Newbery, 1807.

(b) _The Lion’s Masquerade._ “A Sequel to the Peacock ‘At Home’. Written
by a Lady.” London, J. Harris, etc., 1807.

(c) _The Elephant’s Ball and Grand Fête-Champêtre_: Intended as a
Companion to those much admired Pieces, The Butterfly’s Ball and The
Peacock “At Home”. By W. B. London, J. Harris, etc., 1807.

Facsimile reprints by Charles Welsh, 1883.

[Sidenote: p. 221. 1.]

(a) _The Daisy_, “Adapted to the Ideas of Children from four to eight
years old”—was illustrated with 30 copperplate engravings.

(b) _The Cowslip_ was announced as “By the Author of that much admired
little work entitled The Daisy”. Both were published by Harris, and
reprinted with introductions by Charles Welsh in 1885.

(c) Imitations were:—

_The Snowdrop; or, Poetry for Henry and Emily’s Library._ By a Lady.
Harris, 1823 (3rd edition); and _The Crocus; or, Useful Hints for
Children_, “being Original Poems on Popular and Familiar Subjects”.
London, R. Harrild, 1816.

[Sidenote: p. 223. 1.]

_The Journey of Goody Flitch and her Cow_, a variant of _Old Mother
Hubbard_, 1817.

[Sidenote: 2.]

_Dame Wiggins of Lee and Her Seven Wonderful Cats_, “A Humorous Tale.
Written Principally by a Lady of Ninety. Embellished with sixteen
coloured Engravings. Price one shilling”. London, Dean & Munday, 1823.

The rhyme was reprinted by Ruskin, who admired its strong rhythm.

[Sidenote: 3.]

_The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women_, “Illustrated by as many
Engravings, exhibiting their principal Eccentricities and Amusements”.
London, Harris & Son, 1821.

[Sidenote: 4.]

_Readings on Poetry._ By Richard Lovell Edgeworth and Maria Edgeworth
(London, 1816), followed the plan used with the Edgeworth children. No
word or phrase is allowed to pass without explanation.

This may have inspired the author of _The Young Reviewers; or, the Poems
Dissected_. London, William Darton, 1821.


_Chronological List of Children’s Books from 1700 to 1825_

The List shows only books studied in the foregoing chapters. It includes
no undated chap-books.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1700.]

    Anon. The History of the Two Children in the Wood.

[Sidenote: 1701.]

    Bunyan, John. A Book for Boys and Girls; or, Temporal Things

[Sidenote: 1702.]

    White, Thomas. A Little Book for Little Children (12th edn.).

[Sidenote: 1708.]

    Chap-books mentioned in _The Weekly Comedy_ (Jan. 22): Jack and
    the Gyants, Tom Thumb, etc.

[Sidenote: 1709.]

    Romances given in Steele’s paper (Tatler, Nov. 15-17): Don
    Bellianis of Greece, Guy of Warwick, The Seven Champions, etc.

[Sidenote: 1712.]

    Anon. The Child’s Week’s Work.

[Sidenote: 1715.]

    Watts, Isaac. Divine Songs for Children.

[Sidenote: 1727.]

    Anon. The Hermit; or, Philip Quarll.

[Sidenote: 1738.]

    Wright, J. Spiritual Songs for Children. (2nd edn.)

[Sidenote: 1743.]

    Anon. The Little Master’s Miscellany.

[Sidenote: 1744.]

    Anon. A Little Pretty Pocket Book.

    Anon. Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book. 2 vols.

[Sidenote: 1745-66.]

    Anon. The Circle of the Sciences.

[Sidenote: 1746.]

    Anon. The Travels of Tom Thumb.

[Sidenote: 1749.]

    Fielding, Sarah. The Governess; or, The Little Female Academy
    (2nd edn.).

[Sidenote: 1751.]

    Anon. The Lilliputian Magazine.

    Marchant, John. Puerilia; or, Amusements for the Young.

[Sidenote: 1752.]

    Anon. A Pretty Book of Pictures for Little Masters and Misses;
    or, Tommy Trip’s History of Beasts and Birds.

[Sidenote: 1760.]

    Anon. The Top Book of All for Little Masters and Misses.

[Sidenote: 1760-65.]

    Anon. Mother Goose’s Melody; or, Sonnets for the Cradle.

[Sidenote: 1761.]

    The Philosophy of Tops and Balls. (Adv. Apr. 9.)

[Sidenote: 1765.]

    Anon. The Renowned History of Giles Gingerbread: a Little Boy
    who lived upon Learning.

    Anon. The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes.

[Sidenote: 1767.]

    Anon. The Twelfth Day Gift: or, the Grand Exhibition.

[Sidenote: 1768.]

    Anon. Tom Thumb’s Folio.

[Sidenote: 1770.]

    Anon. The Letters between Master Tommy and Miss Nancy Goodwill.

    Anon. Robin Goodfellow; “A Fairy Tale written by A Fairy”.

[Sidenote: 1777.]

    Anon. The History of the Enchanted Castle; or, The Prettiest
    Book for Children.

[Sidenote: _c._ 1777.]

    Anon. Juvenile Correspondence; or, Letters suited to Children
    from four to above ten years of age.

[Sidenote: 1780.]

    Anon. The Poetical Flower Basket.

    Anon. The Governess; or, Evening Amusements at a Boarding

    Barbauld, Anna Laetitia. Easy Lessons. Hymns in Prose for

[Sidenote: _c._ 1780.]

    Cooper, W. D. The Oriental Moralist.

[Sidenote: 1781.]

    Anon. Juvenile Trials.

[Sidenote: 1782.]

    Anon. The History of King Arthur (from Dryden).

    Anon. Oriental Tales: The Ruby Heart and The Enchanted Mirror.

    More, Hannah. Sacred Dramas.

[Sidenote: 1783.]

    Day, Thomas. The History of Sandford and Merton, Vol. I.

[Sidenote: _c._ 1783.]

    Fenn, Eleanor (Lady Fenn). The Juvenile Tatler.

[Sidenote: 1786.]

    Day, Thomas. Sandford and Merton, Vol. II.

    Trimmer, Sarah. Fabulous Histories.

[Sidenote: 1787.]

    Anon. The Adventures of a Silver Penny.

    Anon. The Juvenile Biographer (New England edn.).

    Anon. The Lilliputian Masquerade.

    Day, Thomas. The Children’s Miscellany.

[Sidenote: _c._ 1787.]

    Anon. The Adventures of a Silver Threepence.

[Sidenote: 1788.]

    Kilner, Dorothy (“M. P.”). The Life and Perambulation of a

    The Village School.

    Kilner, Mary Jane (“S. S.”). The Adventures of a Pincushion.

    Jemima Placid; or, The Advantage of Good-Nature.

    Memoirs of a Peg Top.

[Sidenote: _c._ 1788.]

    Anon. The Renowned History of Primrose Prettyface.

[Sidenote: 1789.]

    Anon. The Adventures of Philip Quarll (adapted).

    Anon. The History of Prince Lee Boo.

    Anon. The Life and Adventures of a Fly.

    Cooper, W. D. Blossoms of Morality.

    Day, Thomas. Sandford and Merton. Vol. III.

    Fenn, Eleanor (Lady F.). The Fairy Spectator.

[Sidenote: _c._ 1789.]

    Tom Thumb’s Exhibition.

[Sidenote: 1790.]

    Anon. Mirth without Mischief.

    Kilner, Dorothy (?). Anecdotes of a Boarding School.

[Sidenote: 1791.]

    Wollstonecraft, Mary. Original Stories from Real Life.

[Sidenote: 1792-96.]

    Aikin, A. L. and J. (Mrs. Barbauld and Dr. Aikin). Evenings at
    Home. 6 vols.

[Sidenote: 1794-5.]

    Wakefield, Priscilla. Mental Improvement. 2 vols.

[Sidenote: 1796-1800.]

    Edgeworth, Maria. The Parents’ Assistant; or, Stories for

[Sidenote: 1798.]

    Kendall, Edward Augustus. Keeper’s Travels in Search of his

[Sidenote: 1799.]

    Kendall, E. A. The Crested Wren.

    Pilkington, Mrs. M. S. Biography for Girls. Tales of the

[Sidenote: 1800.]

    Kendall, E. A. The Stories of Senex; or, Little Histories of
    Little People.

    The Swallow.

    Pilkington, M. S. The Asiatic Princess.

    Porter, Jane. The Two Princes of Persia.

    Sandham, Elizabeth. The Boys’ School.

[Sidenote: 1801.]

    Anon. The Dog of Knowledge; or, Memoirs of Bob, the Spotted

    Edgeworth, Maria. Early Lessons. 2 vols. Moral Tales.

    Wakefield, Priscilla. The Juvenile Travellers.

[Sidenote: 1802.]

    Pilkington, M. S. Marvellous Adventures; or, the Vicissitudes
    of a Cat.

[Sidenote: 1804.]

    Taylor, Ann and Jane; and O’Keefe, Adelaide. Original Poems for
    Infant Minds.

[Sidenote: 1805.]

    Anon. Songs for the Nursery.

    Lamb, Charles. The King and Queen of Hearts.

[Sidenote: 1806.]

    Taylor, A. & J.; and O’Keefe, A. Rhymes for the Nursery.

[Sidenote: 1807.]

    Anon. The Children in the Wood (moralised).

    Anon. Robin Hood (moralised).

    B., W. The Elephant’s Ball.

    Dorset, Mrs. C. A. The Lion’s Masquerade. The Peacock “At Home”.

    Lamb, Charles and Mary. Tales from Shakespear.

    Roscoe, William. The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s

    Turner, Elizabeth. The Daisy; or, Cautionary Stories in Verse.

[Sidenote: 1808.]

    Anon. The Academy; or, a Picture of Youth.

    Anon. Stories of Old Daniel.

    Lamb, Charles. The Adventures of Ulysses.

    Pilkington, M. S. Biography for Boys.

    Taylor, Ann. The Wedding among the Flowers.

[Sidenote: 1809.]

    Lamb, Charles and Mary. Mrs. Leicester’s School. Poetry for

    Pilkington, M. S. Biography for Girls.

    Sandham, Elizabeth. The Adventures of a Bullfinch.

    The Adventures of Poor Puss.

[Sidenote: 1810.]

    Argus, Arabella. The Juvenile Spectator.

    Ritson (ed.). Gammer Gurton’s Garland.

[Sidenote: 1811.]

    Anon. Felissa; or, The Life and Opinions of a Kitten of

    Lamb, Charles. Prince Dorus.

    Turner, Elizabeth. The Cowslip; or, More Cautionary Stories in

[Sidenote: 1812.]

    Elliott, Mary (formerly Belson). Precept and Example.

    Sandham, Elizabeth. The Perambulations of a Bee and a Butterfly.

[Sidenote: 1815.]

    Argus, Arabella. The Adventures of a Donkey.

    Edgeworth, Maria. Early Lessons. Vols. III and IV.

[Sidenote: _c._ 1815.]

    Sherwood, M. M. Little Henry and his Bearer.

[Sidenote: 1816.]

    Aikin, Lucy. Juvenile Correspondence.

    Anon. The Peacock and Parrot on their Tour to discover the
    Author of The Peacock “At Home”.

    Edgeworth, Richard Lovell and Maria. Readings on Poetry.

    Elliott, Mary. The Orphan Boy; or, A Journey to Bath.

    Mister, Mary. The Adventures of a Doll.

[Sidenote: 1818.]

    Elliott, Mary. The Modern Goody Two Shoes. The Adventures of
    Thomas Two Shoes.

    Sandham, Elizabeth. The School-fellows.

    Sherwood, Martha Mary. The History of the Fairchild Family.

    Taylor, Jefferys. Harry’s Holiday.

[Sidenote: 1819.]

    Elliott, Mary. The Rambles of a Butterfly.

    Sherwood, M. M. The Little Woodman and His Dog Cæsar.

[Sidenote: 1820.]

    Sherwood, M. M. (ed.). The Governess.

[Sidenote: 1820.]

    Taylor, Jefferys. Æsop in Rhyme.

[Sidenote: 1821.]

    Anon. The Sixteen Wonderful Old Women.

    Anon. The Young Reviewers; or, The Poems Dissected.

    Argus, Arabella. Further Adventures of a Donkey.

    Ostentation and Liberality.

    Edgeworth, Maria. Rosamond, A Sequel to Rosamond in Early

    Elliott, Mary. Confidential Memoirs; or, the Adventures of a
    Parrot, a Greyhound, a Cat and a Monkey.

    Hack, Maria. Harry Beaufoy; or, The Pupil of Nature.

    Sherwood, M. M. The Infant’s Progress.

[Sidenote: 1822.]

    Edgeworth, Maria. Frank. A sequel to Frank, in Early Lessons.

    Sandham, Elizabeth. The Happy Family at Eason House. The
    History of Elizabeth Woodville.

[Sidenote: 1823.]

    Anon. The Adventures of Congo.

    Anon. The Court of Oberon; or, The Temple of the Fairies.

    Hedge, Mary Ann. Samboe; or, the African Boy.

    Lady of Ninety, A. Dame Wiggins of Lee and her Seven Wonderful

[Sidenote: 1824.]

    Hedge, Mary Ann. Radama; or, the Enlightened African.

    Taylor, Jane. The Contributions of Q. Q. 2 vols.

    Taylor, Jefferys. The Little Historians.

[Sidenote: 1825.]

    Edgeworth, Maria. Harry and Lucy “concluded; being the last
    part of Early Lessons”. 4 vols.

_Foreign Books and Translations_

[Sidenote: 1707.]

    D’Aulnoy, Madame la Comtesse. Collected Works.

[Sidenote: 1708.]

    The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments; Translated from the French
    of M. Galland.

[Sidenote: 1708.]

    Perrault, Charles. Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé, avec
    des Moralités. “Par le fils de Monsieur Perrault de l’Academie
    François”. 1st edn. 1697.

[Sidenote: 1722.]

    Æsop. Fables. Croxall’s edition.

[Sidenote: 1729.]

    Perrault, Charles. First English translation by R. Samber.

[Sidenote: 1742.]

    Fénélon, François de Salignac de la Mothe. Adventures of
    Telemachus. 2 vols. 1st French edn. 1699.

[Sidenote: 1757.]

    Beaumont, Jeanne Marie Le Prince de. Le Magazin des Enfans. 2nd
    edn. 2 vols. Translated as the Young Misses’ Magazine. (Adv.
    Critical Review, Aug.)

[Sidenote: 1763.]

    Marmontel, Jean François. Moral Tales. Translated by Miss R.

[Sidenote: 1775.]

    Beaumont, J. M. Le P. de. Moral Tales. Trans. Anon. 2 vols.

[Sidenote: 1779.]

    Genlis, Madame la Comtesse de. Le Théâtre d’Education.

[Sidenote: 1782.]

    Genlis, Madame de. Adèle et Théodore.

[Sidenote: 1782-3.]

    Berquin, Armand. L’Ami des Enfans.

[Sidenote: 1783.]

    Berquin, Armand. The Children’s Friend. Translated by M. A.
    Meilan. 24 vols.

    Epinay, Madame d’. Les Conversations d’Emilie.

    Genlis, Madame de. Adelaide and Théodore. Trans. Anon. 3 vols.

[Sidenote: 1784.]

    Genlis, Madame de. Les Veillées du Château.

[Sidenote: 1786.]

    Marmontel, J. F. Contes Moraux collected.

[Sidenote: 1787.]

    Berquin, Armand. The Looking-Glass for the Mind. (Selections
    from L’Ami des Enfans. ed. Cooper.)

    Epinay, Madame d’. Conversations of Emily. Trans. Anon.

[Sidenote: 1788.]

    Campe, J. H. Robinson der Jüngere. Trans. as The New Robinson

[Sidenote: 1791.]

    Berquin, Armand. The History of Little Grandison. Trans. Anon.

[Sidenote: 1792.]

    Salzmann, C. G. Elements of Morality. Trans. from the German.

[Sidenote: 1801.]

    Engel, J. and Weisse, F. The Juvenile Dramatist. (Educational
    plays, trans. Anon.)

    Genlis, Madame de. Le Petit La Bruyère translated as La Bruyère
    the Less.

[Sidenote: 1809.]

    Jauffret, L. F. Dramas for Children. “Imitated from the French
    of L. F. J. By the Editor of Tabart’s Popular Stories”.

[Sidenote: 1823.]

    Grimm, J. L. C. and W. C. Popular Stories.

Other children’s books of the 18th and 19th centuries are given in Mr. F.
J. Harvey Darton’s bibliography: Cambs. Hist. of Eng. Lit. Vol. XI, Chap.

There is also a useful list of Essays, Magazine Articles, etc.

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