The Book of Accidents
July 3, 2008 6:37 PM   Subscribe

The Book of Accidents: Designed for Young Children (1831). "In presenting to his little readers The Book of Accidents, the Author conceives he cannot render a more important service to the rising generation and to parents, than by furnishing them with an account of the accidents to which Children, from their inexperience or carelessness, are liable. If generally studied it will save the lives of thousands, and relieve many families from the long and unavailing misery attendant on such occurrences." [Via]
posted by homunculus (34 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
DEA Home Invasion

Little children often run about while the officers are bursting forth, and should they be in the flight of the taser their innocent folly shall be repaid. And we see here, this childe, the officer has knocked her down, and now she lies under the boot, where she will be crushed to death in spite of the attempts by all to save her. What horror is depicted on her countenance as the mother and father are bound fast.
posted by tinkertown at 6:50 PM on July 3, 2008 [17 favorites]

Oh boy. Even if the rest of it weren't so full of Gashlycrumb wonderfulness, it would be worth the clicks just for the beast's 'air of sullen majesty' in 'Tossed by a Bull.'
posted by Kinbote at 6:51 PM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I love it! This is what Struwwelpeter was making fun of. I should have more sympathy for didactic children's authors who wrote in a time when cuts or broken bones could be fatal. But -- nah.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:54 PM on July 3, 2008

Guess I picked the wrong weekend to stop sleeping.
posted by Dizzy at 7:07 PM on July 3, 2008

posted by dejah420 at 7:09 PM on July 3, 2008

posted by Dave Faris at 7:11 PM on July 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

This content is awesome, but couldn't they design the UI to let me page through it easily?
posted by nev at 7:21 PM on July 3, 2008

T is for Titus who flew into bits.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:23 PM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Whoops, I didn't see the slideshow link, but it'd still be great if next/previous links were available from the book detail page.
posted by nev at 7:25 PM on July 3, 2008

This looks more like 'The Book of Cool things to do.' I was expecting more gore, ala Forklift Driver Klaus.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:28 PM on July 3, 2008

Wow, what a great find!
posted by amyms at 7:33 PM on July 3, 2008

Yeah, fabulous!

Gives me an idea for a Happy Fun Summer Activities Book for the cretinous monster-spawn down the street, too.
posted by maxwelton at 7:38 PM on July 3, 2008

Then one day the widow and Miss Watson sat me down and tried scaring me with all the dreadful trouble a body could get into, without hardly stirring from a chair. They had this book they was learning me from, called "The 2nd Book of Accidents", and I never seen such a collection of sorry children in my life. There was the boy who fell down the stairs cause he didn't keep a hand on the rail, the girl who leaned too far over into the well, crying pitifully for her mom to save her until she got too weak to cry, although don't ask me why no one thought to wonder why the girl hadn't fetched the bucket back, the two rascals what hit a hornet's nest with a stick and were found all swollen twice their size and purple and yellow so the undertaker couldn't even fit them in a regular coffin, and then the boy who played hooky from church one day and a twister came and leveled every building in town except where the saints were meeting, because God took a personal sort of interest in seeing that everybody in that hamlet was keeping the sabbath that day, I reckon. By the end of it, if I'd wanted to take any of it seriously, I wouldn't have dared get out of bed for fearing that i'd break a toenail and come down with blood poisoning if I stepped into my shoe wrong. But then they told me about a girl who wouldn't even get out of bed until her skin stuck to the sheets and she couldn't get out, and I just figured that there wasn't no way no how that something somewhere wasn't going to get me sometime and they might as well just throw the book away and stop worrying about it.

When I told them that they said I was an hopeless child and would just have to learn it the hard way, then the widow got up and tripped over a little hump in the rug and bruised her face awful. It wouldn't have happened if they'd wrote about it in that book, I bet.
posted by pyramid termite at 7:50 PM on July 3, 2008 [13 favorites]

The Dangerous Book for Poppets.

Really awesome link. I've just been doing some projects related to Tom Sawyer and Story of a Bad Boy, and both books were created with allusions to, and in reaction to, books like this that were meant to instruct "wicked" boys in how to behave kindly and safely and properly. It's great to see an example of one. Thanks!
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on July 3, 2008

Early Darwin Awards?
posted by emjaybee at 8:05 PM on July 3, 2008

'tossed by a bull' is pretty sweet
posted by fuzzypantalones at 8:20 PM on July 3, 2008

Ah, I see 'stop, drop, and roll', in a rather less catchy form, is represented here.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:30 PM on July 3, 2008

It appears that my query encountered the following error: Arguments are of the wrong type, are out of acceptable range, or are in conflict with one another.

Poop. We killed it.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 PM on July 3, 2008

That boy in the very first image has a creepy grown-up face. Aye, I'll wager he told ribald tayles to young maids and trycked them of theyre tuppence.
posted by Askr at 8:51 PM on July 3, 2008

Why does it not have an author?
posted by tellurian at 9:15 PM on July 3, 2008

You gotta admit, "arguments are in conflict with one another" is a pretty great error message.
posted by nev at 9:22 PM on July 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Early Darwin Awards?

Must we tread in such familiar waters?
posted by P.o.B. at 9:40 PM on July 3, 2008

Wonderful! Thanks.
posted by LarryC at 9:45 PM on July 3, 2008

A is for Amy.
posted by washburn at 9:51 PM on July 3, 2008

Don't tease the cat.
posted by homunculus at 10:34 PM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Homunculus: I think I burst my left eye laughing at that wonderful snippet. Thank you.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 12:02 AM on July 4, 2008

Here we see a miserable little girl logging on to a social networking website without being sensible to the dangers that such activities may bring.

She has just read many cruel missives from little boys and girls who must be very unkind and wicked indeed.

See how she neatly she has tied the noose, and papa’s char is so carefully situated below the light fitting.
posted by mattoxic at 12:49 AM on July 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

This appeared the other day on Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities, which I posted here a few months ago. Full marks to the Beinecke Library for digitizing it, though I do wish they would provide more background information.

The Book of Accidents is adapted from a series of wildly popular children's books that had been published in London about thirty years earlier, called The Chapter of Accidents, The Second Chapter of Accidents and The Third Chapter of Accidents. These featured such cautionary tales as the little girl who fell into a pigsty and was nearly eaten by a pig (illustration here -- the story terrified children so much that in later editions the picture was redrawn to make the girl bigger and the pig smaller).

Happily, The Third Chapter of Accidents (1801) has been digitized in full by the Hockliffe Project. Highlights include the picnic party attacked by a tiger ('One of the ladies, with amazing presence of mind, laid hold of an umbrella, and unfurling it directly in the animal's face, it instantly retired'), and the gentleman who woke up one night to find that his servant had just been decapitated by a lion (moral: 'Feed and treat a Lion well').
posted by verstegan at 1:28 AM on July 4, 2008 [6 favorites]

fff: try allowing cookies for that Yale site. I was getting the same error 'til I did that.

This page is a favourite; the inspiration for dozens of Foghorn Leghorn cartoons...
posted by Pinback at 1:43 AM on July 4, 2008

Reminds me of the "useful" presents in Dylan Thomas A Child's Christmas in Wales, including, always, "...a book, in which a young boy was told not to swim in Farmer Gilles pond, and would, and drowned..."

One of my favorite passages. (Pardon the hideous misquote, can't find my copy)
posted by nax at 6:36 AM on July 4, 2008

Sorry for the double post-- didn't check the link. A Boy drowning
posted by nax at 6:38 AM on July 4, 2008

The Modern Struwwelpeter from 1935 by Jan Struther - original book illustrated by EH Shepard (but unfortunately not the version linked). I was brought up on this book at a child (the characters are my father and his 10 cousins).
posted by rongorongo at 8:00 AM on July 4, 2008

I wonder how much of this wasn't common sense back then.
posted by oddman at 8:34 AM on July 4, 2008

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