[To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read”]

Stories for Children
by “Cousin Sarah” (1850-1853?)

This little piece of paper bound ephemera apparently was written around its charmingly mis-proportioned illustrations, for Rhode Island bookseller Daniel Perrin. As an abecedary, it offered a lot: a hand-colored illustration, a poem, and a one-page story, for each letter of the alphabet. An intricate border, different on each page, encloses the illustration and the poem. “Little Star,” “Lucy’s Lamb,” and a poem about George Washington fill out the pages. I’ve been unable to find copyright information, but the American Antiquarian Society lists Perrin as publishing at the address on the front cover from 1850-1853; my copy was presented to a boy in July 1855.

Stories for Children, by “Cousin Sarah” (Providence, RI: Daniel Perrin, n. d.)

[front cover]

front cover

[title page]




p. 2

an antelope

The Antelope bounds o’er the grassy plain,

As light and as free as the air;

And happy as all little children should be,

Who have never known sorrow or care.

p. 3


When little Susie’s father came home from New York he brought her a new picture-book, with which she was, of course, delighted, and thanked him over and over again. And then, like all other little girls and little boys, when they get a new book, she sat down to look at the pictures. In a few moments she ran to her aunt, who sat sewing by the window, and said, “Look aunt Mary! what a pretty Antelope! Did you ever see one?[”] “No, Susie,” said she, “they do not live here. They are found in a country called Asia, many thousand miles away. They are very beautiful little animals, only about as high as this table; but they are very timid, and run so swiftly that no dog can overtake them. They are sometimes called gazelles, and ladies have them for pets, although I suppose you would prefer to make a pet of your little white kitten.[”]

p. 4

three children blow bubbles

Lightly rising in the air,

See the bubbles sparkling there;

Glistening gaily in the sun—

Tho’ their beauty soon is gone.

p. 5


One day, after their tasks were over, little Charley and his sisters went out to play on the log back of the house. Their mother had given them a large bowl of soap suds, and grandpa some of his new pipes; so they thought they would have fine sport blowing bubbles. Charley and Mary took their pipes and blowed bravely, while little Lucy laughed and clapped her hands to see the bright round bubbles rise up and glisten so prettily in the sun. But bubbles, like the happy days of little children, although bright and beautiful, soon pass away. So, after a while they grew tired of playing this, and away they ran in search of some new fun. Mary said, “Come, let’s ask mother if we may go to the woods and get some berries.” This they thought would be very pleasant. Mother consented, and taking their baskets they skipped merrily away.

p. 6

a pensive cow is milked

Come, Brindle, your dinner you’ve had,

You’ve fed in the pasture all day,

Now give us a bowl of sweet milk,

For a little boy tired of his play.

p. 7


Do you live in the country? If you do not, have’nt you some good old grandpa or kind uncle who does, where you can go in the hot summer? And, when you are there, what sport you have in the old barn, jumping on the sweet hay, and hunting hen’s nests in all the dark corners! And then the orchard, with its peaches and apples, and at night a long walk through the woods, to drive the cows home. And then I know you like to go out with John or Betty when they milk the cows. And you can pat old Brindle’s neck, while she stands so still, and appears as though she was pleased to have little children come and see her. And when you go in, grandma or aunt Jane has got you a nice bowl of bread and milk for your supper, and in the morning you will have some bright yellow butter on your cakes. What should we do without the Cow to give us milk?

p. 8

two white Children and a dog play with a dog cart

Now they’ll have a fine ride

In the garden to-day,

With Carlo to draw them,

As happy as they.

p. 9


See! there is Miss Annie taking a morning ride, in her little yellow wagon, with Carlo to draw her. She has her whip in her hand, but I do not think she will be very cruel to him, for see how good and kind he looks, and how willing he is to try to do just as Annie or master Edward bids him. Carlo is a very good dog, and has done a great many useful things for his master. I have seen him carrying a basket home from market as carefully as master Edward could do. And if he were to go to walk with Annie, he would take as much care of her as a dog could, and would not allow anything to harm her. Little Annie must be kind to old Carlo, for if he does sometimes do as she would not wish to have him, it is because he does not know better, and she must try and teach him to do right. We must never be cruel to dumb animals.

p. 10

a man rides an elephant that pulls a plow

Here, Willie, is an Elephant,

Just see how large he is!

How do you think you’d like to ride

On a seat so high as this?

p. 11


Willie Gray was told one morning that, if his lessons for the forenoon were well learned, he should go in the afternoon to see a show of wild animals. In high glee he ran off to school, and, as soon as he saw his little playmates, he told them of his promised pleasure. And Johnny Lee said, “I’m going too; and my father says we shall see a great Elephant.” Little Willie wondered what an elephant was, but he thought he could ask his father at noon. So he waited quite patiently until school was done, and then hurried home, and when he found his father he desired him to tell something about an Elephant. So his father said, “Well, Willie, you will see a very large animal, larger than any you ever saw, but you need not be at all afraid of him, for he is very mild and gentle. In the country where they live people use them instead of horses.”

p. 12

a woman gives a fan to a little girl

It is so warm I cannot play,

And so I’ll take my book to-day;

I’ll get my Fan, and under the tree

There’ll be a nice cool place for me.

p. 13


One summer afternoon little Fanny hardly knew how to amuse herself. It was so warm she did not want to play much, and puss was so sleepy she could’nt talk to her; so she thought she would get her story book and read a little. There was a cool place to sit under a large tree in the garden, so Fanny got her book, and then she wanted a fan. Now she had a nice little one of her own, that her aunt had given her, with a picture upon it, of two sisters swinging in a pretty garden; but she thought her mother’s large fan was much better. So she ran to her mother, who was sewing in the parlor, and asked leave to take it. Her mother was very kind, and told her she might if she would be careful of it, and went to get it for her. So Fanny had a fine time reading in the garden; and learned some verses about a little robbin [sic] to say to her mother.

p. 14

a white boy feeds a goose and 6 goslings

To see the little Goslings swim,

I’m sure would be nice fun,

So Mary get your bonnet quick

And to the pond we’ll run.

p. 15


One morning William and I took a basket of corn, and went to carry some breakfast to the old white goose and her little family—six cunning green goslings, so soft and pretty. But when we came to the yard where they stayed during the night, we found they were not there. And, as we looked down the lane, we saw the old goose leading the way to the pond, where she was going to give them their first lesson in swimming. So we went to see how they liked it, and they all seemed as happy as though it was no new employment—sometimes putting their heads under the water, and then rubbing them over their bodies—not quite so fearful of water as some little children I have seen. William threw down some of the corn, and they picked it up as fast as it fell, much pleased, I suppose, with their good breakfast.

p. 16

a white girl sits on a horse held by a white boy

Now the horse is at the door,

Come, Nelly, are you ready?

I will put you in your seat:

Good Charley, now stand steady!

p. 17


Nelly had many times requested her father to let her ride on horseback. So at last, he told her she might try, if she would let her brother go with her to see that she did not fall off. So Henry brought the Horse to the door, where Nelly, in her pretty new riding dress, was waiting for him. She was carefully placed upon her high seat, and, as you see, appears as much at ease as if sitting in her mother’s parlor. Then Henry led the horse down the hill, a little way past the cottage where grandma lived, that she might see how Nelly looked on horseback. Grandma was much pleased; still she thought it was dangerous, and told Nelly to be very careful, and not fall. And then she stood at the door and watched them, as Henry led the horse up to the house where mother stood waiting to see how Nelly liked her ride, and found her much delighted.

p. 18

a Native American

I am an Indian, dressed so fine,

I’m sure you’ve no blanket so pretty as mine;

No feathers so bright as these in my hair;

No home so pleasant as my green woods are.

p. 19


Children, did any one ever tell you that in this place, where you now live, there were once only large trees,—that there were no houses or gardens, and no white people? So it was a great many years ago, and all the people who lived here were Indians, and they had no houses, but lived in huts. Here is a picture of an Indian standing near his hut; see how strangely he is dressed, with his blanket wrapped around him, and those bright feathers in his hair! But now the Indians live a great way off. They like to be near the woods, where they can hunt such animals as they use for food. When the white people came here, and cut down the trees, and built up their villages and cities, the Indians went away, and now we do not often see them, except when they sometimes travel round from place to place, to sell the curious things which they make.

p. 20

a white girl puts money into a white man’s hat

Every one loves little Jane,

Shall I tell the reason why?

She is always good and kind,

So may you be, if you try.

p. 21


Jane is a very kind girl, and tries to do all she can to make others happy. She is kind to her brothers and sisters, and all her little playmates, which some children seem to forget; and this makes everybody love her. She is very good to poor people too. One day when she was going to visit her cousin, she came to a place where a poor old blind man was sitting down to rest himself on a rock. His little boy that led him along was beside him, and this was all the friend he had. He looked very sad, and Jane pitied him; she had some money that her mother had given her to buy a pretty story book, but she thought she would rather go without the book, and give the money to the old man, who seemed to need it so much. So she dropped it into his hat, and when he thanked her, don’t you think she was happier than if she had kept the money herself?

p. 22

three white boys fly kites

What a beautiful Kite,

And how high it will fly;

It looks like a little bird

Up in the sky.

p. 23


John, like all other boys, is always trying to see what he can make. One day his cousin Henry showed him a kite, which his uncle had given him, and John thought to himself that he could make one as pretty as that. And as soon as he went home he got his wood, paper and paste, and began at once. After working awhile he thought it was too much trouble to make so large a one as he wanted, and grew tired of it; but his mother told him it was a bad plan for boys to commence anything and not finish it, so he worked on, and at last the kite was finished. It was a beautiful one, almost as large as himself, with a large red star on one side. The next day was very pleasant, and John and his cousin went out to see the new kite fly, and when it sailed so prettily in the air, John thought it was as much the best way for any one to “try, try again.”

p. 24

two white people pick apples

Come, bring a long Ladder

To climb up the tree,

And gather some apples

For you and for me.

p. 25


The Apples were ripe, and Mary took her little basket out under the tree, to pick up some for her mother. There were not many large ones on the ground, and she tried to reach the limbs, and shake off some that were nice; but they were all too high; and while she was thinking what she should do, she looked round and saw her uncle James coming with his large basket on his arm, and a long ladder. She ran to meet him, and told him her trouble. He said he would help her, and soon he was on the tree, and when he shook the limbs, down came such a shower of bright red Apples that Mary was glad to run away until they had done falling, then she could fill her basket with beautiful ones; and, after she had carried them to her mother, she went back to help her uncle fill his basket. It is fine sport to go out under the trees and gather the ripe fruit.

p. 26

an obelisk

Come, look at this Monument

For a great man,

And try to be like him

In all that you can.

p. 27


Here is a Monument; most likely it is for some great and good man. There is a name upon it. It is Washington; and he was one of the best men who ever lived. Everybody loves the name of Washington, because he was such a good man, and little children ought to love it too. When you get a little older you must read about him, and then you will see how much happier you are than you would have been if he had not done so many good things. He was good when he was a little boy; if he had not been, he would not have made so good a man. And I can tell you two things about him, which you can do just as well as he did. He never told a lie, and always tried to please his mother. You would all like to be as good as he when you are old, so you must try to do as he did when he was a little boy. Everybody loves good children.

p. 28

a white child looks at baskets of nuts

The Nuts are very fine, ’tis true,

But Eddie should not take them so;

What did his good, kind mother say?

And it is wrong to disobey.

p. 29


The fine Nuts in the basket looked very tempting, but Eddie’s mother had given him some, and told him not to take any more. But after she had left the room, he ran to the table, and by standing on tiptoe, got enough to fill his pocket, and then ran back to his play in the corner. But Eddie knew he had done wrong, and when his mother came in, he did not like to stay where she was, so he put up his blocks and went into the garden. But here he felt very unhappy, for he had disobeyed his kind mother; he wandered about for a while, feeling very uneasy, but, at last, he thought he would do what he knew was right—go and tell his mother what he had done, and how sorry he was. When he told her, she felt very sad to think that eddie should do so, but was glad that he was so willing to confess his fault. Children should obey their parents.

p. 30

a white girl stands on a chair, holding a branch of oranges

Now here are some Oranges,

Just from the tree;

Perhaps Mary is waiting

To give them to me.

p. 31


What a beautiful basket of Oranges! and I suppose all little boys and girls would like a chance to help themselves. But when you are eating a nice sweet orange, do you ever think where it came from? Did you ever see oranges growing here as our apples, and pears and peaches grow? No. You may, perhaps, have seen a small tree in some one’s warm parlor, but it is too cold here for them to grow out of doors. Although we sometimes have very warm days in summer, they do not last long, and then the cold winter comes, with frost and snow, and all the flowers and green leaves are gone; and if an orange tree were to be brought here it would die. It lives in warm countries, where there is no snow nor cold winds; and, after the oranges are grown, they are brought here in vessels, and then we can buy them at the candy stores.

p. 32

a white girl looks at a peacock

See the poor, silly Peacock,

So proud of his dress;

Do you think you are ever

As foolish as this?

p. 33


Did you ever see a Peacock? He seems very proud of his beautiful feathers. He often spreads his tail like a fan, and struts about as though he wanted people to notice his fine dress; and dont you think that pride looks very foolish? But I have sometimes seen little children who seemed quite as proud as the poor, silly peacock? I have seen a little girl with a fine new dress, and a little boy with a fine new jacket, who were so proud of their clothes that they thought everybody was admiring them; and they could think of nothing else. Now we all like to have good clothes, and it is right we should; but it is’nt our clothes that makes us good. I have seen a little girl dressed very nicely, who was very cross; and do you think any one liked her any better because she wore a silk dress? Everybody loves good boys and girls, whatever may be their dress.

p. 34

a queen sits on a throne

The good Queen sits in her chair of state,

And rules her people well;

But we have no Queen to give us laws,

The reason—can you tell?

p. 35


I suppose no one of you ever saw a Queen except in a picture. In a great many countries the people have kings and queens to govern them, and give them laws; but we have no such rulers; and, when you are a little older, you will learn the reasons why, and you will be glad that it is so. Perhaps when you have heard how a queen could have so many fine things, and do just as she pleased, and that every one around her was always ready to obey every little word, you may have thought you would like very much to be a queen. But they have many more troubles than you do. They sometimes have a great many enemies, or people who are trying all the time to injure them, and make them unhappy, while you know that your friends are always willing to do anything they can to make you happy. What a blessing to have kind friends.

p. 36

a white boy feeds a huge rabbit

Come, my pretty little rabbit,

Now come out to play;

We must have another frolic

In the grass to-day.

p. 37


Let us go into the yard and see Willie’s Rabbit. His aunt brought him a beautiful little white one, with red eyes, long silky ears, and fur as soft as down. Willie says its name is Kate. He has made a nice house for it, with a soft bed of hay in one corner, and a little trough for its oats; and every morning he goes out into the field and picks some sweet clover for its breakfast. He takes very good care of his rabbit now, and I hope he will not forget to do so. I have heard of a little boy who teased his mother to buy him a rabbit, and made a great many promises to take care of it. But he soon began to think it too much trouble, and did not visit it quite so often as at first. But the poor rabbit, shut up in its little pen, could not live without care; and, after a while, it began to droop, and finally died. What a cruel boy!

p. 38

a sailor

O’er the blue dashing billows

Forever I’ll roam,

The ocean’s my country,

The Ship is my home.

p. 39


Did you ever stand on the shore of the broad ocean on some bright summer morning? Did you watch the little waves as they chased one another to the land, and rippled at your feet? How they sparkled in the bright sunshine! Was it not a beautiful sight? Perhaps you saw a little boat, with its white sail spread, gliding so prettily along, and, far off in the distance, a large Ship, or a Steamboat, bound to some port many miles away. Then did you not think it would be pleasant to be a sailor, and be on the blue water always? Many a little boy thinks so, and is willing to leave his happy home, and kind friends, to be a “merry sailor lad.” Although you might think a sailor’s life so pleasant, still he must meet many dangers, and needs to be very bold and courageous; but, if it were not for him, we should be without many things we now enjoy.

p. 40

a white man brands a gigantic turtle

Who would be like cruel Tom,

Pleased to see the pain he gave?

I’m very sure that none of you

Such a heart would wish to have.

p. 41


A Tortoise was one day walking slowly along, having quite a journey to make, and, on his way, was passing the shop of a blacksmith. He was a quiet, gentle little animal, who never meant to do harm to any one, nor thought anybody would be so cruel as to wish to injure him. But the blacksmith had not much to do, and, like all other idle people, was ready for any mischief. Seeing the tortoise creeping along, he thought he would make him hurry a little. So, taking a hot iron from the fire, he ran out and pressed it on the back of the poor creature, and then laughed, as though he was pleased to see the pain which his cruelty had caused. Dont you think he was a very wicked man? I am sure you would not wish to be like him. Be always kind to every creature, then no one will ever have any reason to call you as cruel as the blacksmith.

p. 42

a white man with a child on his lap

Here’s my uncle’s great Arm-Chair,

In the place he loves so well;

And here am I, already now,

To hear the stories he will tell.

p. 43


“Uncle James has come!” shouted merry little voices, and all the children ran to the door to meet their kind uncle, who had come a long way to visit them. Henry led him to the great Arm-Chair, Walter carried away his hat and coat, and Mary his gloves. And they all wanted him to get rested as soon as he could, that he might talk to them as he always did. But they were good children, and did not tease him, but waited patiently until he should be ready for them. So after a while he remembered them, and taking little Frank on his lap, began to talk to them.—They asked many questions about their little cousins, Charles and Annie, whom he left at home with their mother, and who had told him many things to say to them. He was much pleased when he learned how well they got along at school, and gave each of them a story book.

p. 44

a vase of flowers

Now the summer days are here,

Flowers are blooming everywhere;

Lifting up their pretty heads

From their humble, grassy beds.

p. 45


Emily, was this beautiful Vase of Flowers picked from your garden? I should think you must have taken very good care of it. You seem to love flowers better than some little girls who play so much that they have no time to look at them, and see how pretty they are. Just look at this rose, what a beautiful color! could you paint anything like it. See the leaves—how many there are, and how perfectly they are all fastened on, to make such a full rose. Ladies sometimes make roses of paper or wax; but they can never make one exactly like this. It would not be half so beautiful. We could not make anything so pretty as the most common little flower you see in the fields. You must always love flowers, for they seem so pure and innocent, and you will always find them beautifying the fields and gardens wherever you go.

p. 46

a miller at a windmill

The Windmill, though it looks so odd,

Is very useful too;

For, if we could not grind our corn,

What do you think we’d do?

p. 47


This odd looking building, with its long sails, is a Windmill, such as people used many years ago, to grind their corn. It does not look much like the mills that we have now; and it is quite different. The long sails are turned round by the wind; and they are connected with wheels inside of the building, which move when the sails do. But our mills are moved by water. A large wheel is placed so that water can pass over it; and so it is turned round; and this makes other wheels in the building move. We have a great many things now which are very different from those that were used when our grandfathers were little boys. And people are all the time making something new. And most likely, when we are old, many things which will be used will seem very different from those we now see, as every day in the year brings us something new.

p. 48

a boat with three sails

Glide swiftly on, my little boat,

The voyage soon will end,

And soon I’ll see again my home,

And meet each loving friend.

p. 49


There comes the little vessel called the Xebec! How very prettily she glides over the sparkling water. The sailors are busily at work preparing to land, for they will soon be home. They have been away a long time, and have visited many beautiful places, but nothing has looked so pleasant to them as those white houses and tall spires of the city you see far off over the water, because that is their home, and there the friends they love are waiting to welcome them. Home is the best place, and so every one thinks after having been away a long time. Sometimes sailors are gone many years, tossing over the ocean, stopping, perhaps, once in a while, at a place where the people are very different from those who live here. Should you not think they would be glad to see home again? You should love your home, and pity those who have none.

p. 50

a white boy with a slate under his arm

The happy Youth to school is bound,

And there he’ll say his lessons well;

The boy who’s good, and loves to learn,

We all can very quickly tell.

p. 51


How happy James looks! He has his slate under his arm, and is going to school. He is a good boy, and does not think it hard, and pout and cry because his mother wishes him to go. He knows that he must learn many things if he would make a good and useful man. Little boys love to play, and we all like to see them enjoy themselves; but, if they were to play all the time, when would they ever learn anything? And, if they grow up in this way, do you think they could make useful men? They would be idle and ignorant, and such a man you would not like at all. So you must always be willing to go to school, and study as hard as you can while you are there. Then, when school is done, you will enjoy your play all the better for having kept still so long. you will enjoy yourself better to study some, and play some.

p. 52

a zebra

The Zebra lives in a distant land,

Where you have never been;

A prettier creature, in all your life,

I’m sure you’ve never seen.

p. 53


The Zebra is a beautiful animal, that lives in Africa, a country a great way off. It looks, as you see in the picture, very much like a horse, but is much smaller, and has a very different coat. He is striped all over his body with black and white, so nicely that you would think some one had been dressing him in ribands. he is a timid creature, and cannot be easily caught, although sometimes people have one for a show. But he cannot be tamed and made to obey us as willingly as the horse. We can easily see the beauty of the Zebra and many other things, but I suppose if you were to look at some animals, you would call them very ugly. Do you not know that the same skillful hand made everything, whether pretty or not? If you were to look carefully at any of them you would find a great deal that you might say was beautiful.

p. 54


When General Washington was young,

About as big as I,

He never would permit his tongue

To tell a wilful lie.

Once when he cut his father’s tree,

He owned it to his face;

And then his father ardently

Clasped him in his embrace.

He told his son it pleased him more

To find him own the truth,

Than if his tree were bending o’er

With rich and golden fruit.

Then like this good and noble youth,

Whose virtues ever shone,

I’ll seek the paths of love and truth,

And all my faults will own.

p. 55


Lucy had a little Lamb,

Its fleece was white as snow,

And everywhere that Lucy went

The lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school one day:

That was against the rule,

It made the children laugh and play

To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned him out,

But still he lingered near,

And waited patiently about,

Till Lucy did appear.

“What makes the lamb love Lucy so,”

The little children cried; “Oh, Lucy loves the lamb, you know,”

The teacher quick replied.

p. 56


Twinkle, twinkle, little Star;

How I wonder what you are!

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

When the glorious sun is set,

When the grass with dew is wet,

Then you show your little light,

Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

In the dark blue sky you keep,

And often through my curtains peep;

For you never shut your eye

Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark

Lights the traveller in the dark,

Though I know not what you are,

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

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