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The Accidents of Youth: a 1819 Book About the Gory Consequences of Not Heeding Your Mom's Advice

The Accidents of Youth is a 1819 book of short stories to warn children of the dangerous temptations they should avoid and the gory consequences for not following their mother's advice. Along with the text, there are several wonderful engravings to illustrate the situation.

This particular one is about the hazard of teasing a cat:

My mother used to say, 'Simon, you will be bitten, or scratched, or get kicked;' but I listened to nothing that she said, and continued to do as I pleased. I was soon punished, as you will hear.

"One of our neighbours had a Tom-Cat, whose whiskers were as long as my finger. I amused myself by pulling the hairs. &c.; for, as I have already told you, I was then as naughty as you are. My mother never ceased repeating to me, - 'Simon, the cat will scratch you, if you do not let him alone.' I took no notice of what she said, but went on my own way. One day, when the Tom-cat was in a worse humour than usual, and determined to defend his whiskers, he threw out his paw so nimbly, that he scratched me in the left eye, and burst it. Thus, for not having paid attention to the commands of my mother, God punished me with the loss of an eye.

Link [PDF] - via Internet Archive | More selection of fantastic children's book from the Internet Archive at STWALLSKULL Blog


Maybe we insulate our kids too much by pretending such things dont occur. Even very young children are naturally curious about the physical consequences of accidents, especially young boys, and do not shy away from the gory details. This book was written before medevac helicopters and safety-tested childrens toys, when minor cuts could lead to life-stopping infections. I can see the psychological risks of such frank descriptions, but I can't laugh the book off. There is some wisdom in it.
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More like Gorey's illustrations for Hilaire Belloc's earlier "Cautionary Tales for Children".
I've also seen a book like this published by the Children's Sunday School Association in the 1830s - one story, summed up, says "I fought with my brother. The next day he fell down a well, and my leg fell off."
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