The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

September 20, 2012

September 20, 1894

Heinrich Hoffmann (June 13, 1809 to  September 20, 1894) was a German physician, a witty and learned man, who took the post of director of the lunatic asylum in Frankfurt, in 1851. Here he seems to have had an extraordinary rate of success though he refused to attribute his success to any ideological perspectives. The poem below was one of a series he wrote, meant to entertain as well as educate children. The things that strike us as grotesque were not seen as such by their original audience. 


The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches


Mamma and Nurse went out one day,
And left Pauline alone at play;
Around the room she gayly sprung,
Clapp'd her hands, and danced, and sung.,
Now, on the table close at hand,
A box of matches chanced to stand,
And kind Mamma and Nurse had told her,
That if she touched them they would scold her;
But Pauline said, "Oh, what a pity!
For, when they burn, it is so pretty;
They crackle so, and spit, and flame;
And Mamma often burns the same.
I'll just light a match or two
As I have often seen my mother do."
When Minz and Maunz, the pussy-cats, heard this
They held up their paws and began to hiss. -
"Meow!!" they said, "me-ow, me-o!
You'll burn to death, if you do so,
Your parents have forbidden you, you know."
But Pauline would not take advice,
She lit a match, it was so nice!
It crackled so, it burned so clear,-
Exactly like the picture here.
She jumped for joy and ran about,
And was too pleased to put it out.

When Minz and Maunz, the little cats, saw this,
They said, "Oh, naughty, naughty Miss!""
And stretched their claws,
And raised their paws;
"Tis very, very wrong, you know;
Me-ow, me-o, me-ow, me-o!
You will be burnt if you do so,
our mother has forbidden you, you know. "
Now see! oh! see, what a dreadful thing
The fire has caught her apron-string;
Her apron burns, her arms, her hair;
She burns all over, everywhere.

Then how the pussy-cats did mew
What else, poor pussies, could they do?
They screamed for help, 'twas all in vain,
I So then, they said, "We'll scream again.
Make haste, make haste! me-ow! me-o!
She'll burn to death,- we told her so."
So she was burnt with all her clothes,
And arms and hands, and eyes and nose;
Till she had nothing more to lose
Except her little scarlet shoes;
And nothing else but these was found
Among her ashes on the ground.
And when hen the good cats sat beside
The smoking ashes, how they cried!
"Me-ow me-o! ! Me-ow, me-oo! !
What will Mamma and Nursy do?"
Their tears ran down their cheeks so fast.
They made a little pond at last.

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