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Title: Rhymes for Harry and His Nurse-Maid

Author: Maria Arthington

Release date: March 18, 2014 [eBook #45168]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chris Curnow, Chris Whitehead and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


Cover for Rhymes for Harry and his Nurse-maid.

The cover image was restored by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


to "Rhymes for Harry and his Nurse-Maid".

Frontispiece to "Rhymes for Harry and his Nurse-Maid".

Nursery Furniture. pa 21.

Nursery Furniture. pa 21.
A simple tale will oft prevail,
When sober prose is spurn'd;
The charm of rhyme beguiles the time,
And still a lesson's learn'd.







A simple tale will oft prevail,

When sober prose is spurn'd;

The charm of rhyme beguiles the time,

And still a lesson's learn'd.

Thus lines for youth, in simple truth,

We never will despise;

For maxims old, tho' frequent told,

May still assist the wise.




It is with feelings of great humility, from a sense of her own deficiency in the important duties of a mother, that the writer of the following rhymes submits them to the public. Her wish is to convey a few useful hints to nurse-maids, as well as to those mothers who have had but little experience in the care of children.

Many young mothers, more especially in the middle circles of life, have scarcely leisure to make education a study; while others, perhaps, do not reflect on the very great importance of early habits; to such persons, the few practical observations contained in the notes,[iv] may not be unacceptable.

The subjection of the will, in the first place, by mild yet firm and persevering conduct, will generally ensure success to the parent, and will save the child hours and even days of fretfulness and sorrow.

The employment of a nurse-maid is a responsible one; those who really perform their duty from pure and conscientious motives, will not lose their reward; and though such may feel themselves to be placed in a very humble situation, they are, in reality, laying the foundation for future happiness or misery. In the first three years of childhood, that basis is often formed upon which the conduct of future life is built. If self-will, and a spirit of contradiction, be allowed to take deep root in the infant mind, Divine Grace only can counteract their evils. But, on the other hand, if good feelings be cherished, and the evil passions (which all have more or less, by nature,) be gradually subjected,[v] early blossoms of virtue will appear; and, by the blessing of Providence, those beautiful fruits will be matured, by which the tree may be known to be good; and by which, from the cradle to the grave, the designs of the benevolent Creator will be accomplished.

Nurse's first thoughts about her baby. pa 7.

Nurse's first thoughts about her baby. pa 7.
Finding a Pin which had pricked baby. pa 8.

Finding a Pin which had pricked baby. pa 8.

The writer only wishes to say, that these rhymes were undertaken at the particular request of a valued friend of hers, who has bestowed much of his time, with truly benevolent intentions, in adding to the instruction and amusement of the rising generation; and she cannot but acknowledge the obligation she feels for the kind assistance he has lent her in several of the subjects which occupy the following pages.

The design of the writer is, that each piece shall convey some hint which may tend to the physical or moral advantage of the child, in those duties which immediately devolve upon a mother, and her nurse-maid; so that, while[vi] they are amusing their little ones with the recital of a simple narrative, adapted to the most humble capacity, they may sometimes be pleasantly reminded of their own obligations.

M. A.




Little Baby, just new born,
Naked, trembling, and forlorn,
My hand the willing help supplies,
To ease thy pain, and soothe thy cries;
Nor can I tell thee little dear,
How much we're pleased to see thee here.
O, it will be my sweet delight
To serve thee with this milk so white!
But tho' my babe so nicely feeds,
I'll only give just what it needs;
If I the spoon too often fill,
'Twould make my baby sick and ill.
Mamma too will be able soon
To feed her babe without a spoon,
And that we know is better far
Than milk and barley-water are.



Hark! I hear my baby weeping,
Tho' it seemed so nicely sleeping;
Sure its wrapping is not right!
I fear there is some string too tight.
Ah! now I find the reason why,—
My precious baby well might cry.
Upon its bosom, close within
The barrow-coat, I've found a pin;
But I can tell thee o'er and o'er,
No pin shall ever prick thee more;
Some buttons shall be snugly set
Upon the flannels of my pet.
Ah, baby dear, so feeble, fair!
Thou call'st forth many an anxious care!
Thou canst not speak thy pain or wo,
Or tell me whence thy pleasures flow;
Then o'er my babe a watch I'll keep,
And guard it when 'tis fast asleep.

The crust.—Teething. pa 15.

The crust.--Teething. pa 15.
Babes are fretful when suddenly aroused from sleep. pa 16.

Babes are fretful when suddenly aroused from sleep. pa 16.



Should any cause of inward pain
Make baby cry or start again,
I'll warm its feet before the fire,
Or see what else it may require;
Over my shoulder gently throw
And rock my baby to and fro.
And now, asleep within the cot,
It must be neither cold nor hot.
If cold, I know it shortly will
Awake, and feel itself quite ill;
And if 'tis wrapp'd too tight and warm,
Tho' babe may feel no present harm,
'Twill be relax'd, and feeble grow,
And shortly lose its healthy glow.
But with a blanket warm, yet light,
And pillow not too great a height,
With nothing else to tease or cumber,
Baby will most sweetly slumber.



My baby must be clean and neat,
With cap and pinafore complete;
I'll daily sponge its little head,
And wash its skin, so soft and red.
My seat must not be over high,
Lest babe roll off my lap, and cry:
Upon my knee, I'll safely hold,
And do it quick for fear of cold.
Hush, hush, my dear! I'll not be long;
Washing will make thee stout and strong:
Thy little nerves 'twill help to brace,
'Twill make thee have a rosy face.
Some helpless babes scarce ever get
A wholesome washing, like my pet;
Then weak, and weaker still, they grow,
No sprightliness or pleasure show;
Whereas, by constant daily care,
With skin so fresh, and clean brush'd hair,
They might have stouter grown, and stronger,
And liv'd in cheerful health much longer.



When a babe is uneasy and restless in bed,
"Child's cordial" will soothe it to sleep, it is said;
And ignorant people, who know not its harm,
Think this dangerous stuff has a powerful charm.
But one drop of such poison I never will give,
Because I would rather my darling should live;
And I know very well, if this cordial I try,
That baby will want more and more, till it die.
Tho' made with such art as to lull and give ease,
It lays the foundation for lasting disease;
No mother deserves a sweet babe for her prize,
Who would poison her infant, to silence its cries.
And a nurse who loves baby, or values her place,
Will ne'er use this drug; 'tis a sin and disgrace;
Well then, I will try with much patience and care,
To soothe my dear babe, or some food to prepare;
And the true satisfaction of doing my best
Will repay all my labour and sweeten my rest.



Must we take a nice walk?—
Where are spencer and hat?
Why, my Harry looks pleas'd,
When I tell him of that!
We must trip rather briskly,
Not saunter and stay;
Then we catch the fresh breeze
As it hastens away.
And now for the gate,—
Let us open it, dear;
We have got to the field,
And the daisies appear.
The cowslips and buttercups[1]
Make it look yellow;
Must I pluck one, to give
To my sweet little fellow?

Baby asleep again in the cot. pa 9.

Baby asleep again in the cot. pa 9.
Washing. pa 10.

Washing. pa 10.


Come, look at this flower—
Ah! now he has caught it;
Well really, my Harry,
I scarce could have thought it!
And now, to his mouth,
He is bearing the prize,
Ah! I see very well
That I have not been wise.
Some insect may lurk
On the stalk or the leaves;
I must take it away,
Though my darling it grieves.

Note.—Children are sent out into the country for the benefit of fresh air and exercise; but it is impossible to say what evils arise through the thoughtlessness of some nurse-maids, who will even let their helpless babes sit upon the cold grass, in order that they may loiter with their associates.



How cheerful is the live-long day,
When babe and I together stray!
Among the fields and daisy-flowers,
We love to spend the happy hours;
But when Mamma shall send us down
To make her markets in the town,
Much we shall see to please the boy
And make him almost jump for joy:
Horses and carts will please him well,
And twenty things we need not tell.
But then we must not stop too long,
Mamma would say that we did wrong.
We must not saunter in the street,
Or chatter with the folks we meet,
But hasten homeward with our store,
Until we reach the well-known door:
With dirty feet we'll not be seen,
For Mary's steps are neat and clean.
If Harry for my basket begs,
I must not let him break my eggs,
Or lose my curds, or spill, or waste;
But find some toy to suit his taste:
Then Harry, nurse, and basket-store,
Will safely land at home once more.



Babies, when cutting teeth, oft cry,
And bite their little thumbs;
Aught they can seize, they'll often try
To carry to their gums.
Some people give them coral bright
With bells all hung together;
And some will give them glass to bite,
Or ivory, or leather.[2]
But things that are so hard as glass
Mamma approves of never;
They grieve and hurt poor babes, alas!
And make them worse than ever.
A nurse should then be very kind
In finding what will please,
A crust of bread, if they're inclined,
Will nourish and not tease.
Their diet should be thought of too,
With care about their dress:
Lancing, when teeth are nearly thro,'
Makes babies suffer less.



Come, come, my sweet deary
Has slept rather long,
But now that he's waking
I'll sing him a song.
But softly awhile—
I must not be forgetful,
That suddenly rousing
Makes Harry quite fretful.
I must not with haste
Toss my baby about,
If I make too much noise
I shall grieve him, I doubt.
Then be-boo, my darling,
My bosom shall hide thee;
I'll pat thee, and kiss thee,
No fear shall betide thee.
Ah! how sweetly he smiles,
Now I've gained all my ends;
For my baby and I
Can soon make-up good friends.

Learning to walk. pa 17.

Learning to walk. pa 17.
In-doors play. pa 18.

In-doors play. pa 18.



My baby trips with steps complete,
And loves to stand upon his feet;
But then 'tis only when I hold
His finger, that he feels so bold;
Until his limbs are firmer grown
I must not let him stand alone;
I'll notice every new desire,
That, while I teach, I may not tire;
His little wants with care supply,
And guard against each danger nigh.
We'll sometimes walk, and sometimes rest,
Just as my darling likes the best:
For ah! his legs are young and slender,
His tripping toes are soft and tender;
Much at once he cannot bear,
Needing patience, thought, and care.
Yet frequent walking, not too long,
Will make his little limbs grow strong.



Look out, my dear, how fast it rains,
Pelting upon the window panes!
We'll shut them till the storm is o'er,
Lest it should rain upon the floor.
When all above seems clear and dry,
Again we'll throw the windows high;
The shower makes all look green and fair,
And wholesome is the freshen'd air.
Come, Harry, get his ball the while—
(Harry loves play, it makes him smile.)
We'll roll it on the floor, and then
Quickly we'll fetch it back again.
And, if I think his looks betray
Some anxious wish for change of play,
We'll try a hundred little tricks,
We'll fetch his horse, his cart, his bricks;
And, when he seems well pleas'd, we'll strive
To keep good-temper all alive:
With kindness and obliging aim
I'll join in every childish game,
Nor interrupt with thoughtless air,
Aught that has claim'd my Harry's care.

See how my Harry hangs his head. pa 19.

See how my Harry hangs his head. pa 19., Bed-time.


Now, on the little cap we'll put. pa 20.

Now, on the little cap we'll put. pa 20.

Never grieve one to please another. pa 22.

Never grieve one to please another. pa 22.
Warm Feet. pa 24.

Warm Feet. pa 24.



When little sister Jane arriv'd,
Harry was two years old;
His dimpled cheeks and lively air
A cheerful temper told.
Well pleas'd, he sat by nurse's side,
As she the babe would dress.
And, though he kiss'd or patted her,
Too hard he did not press.
He learn'd to wait upon himself,
His pinafore to loose,
Now on he'd nicely put his socks,
And clasp his little shoes.
He nimbly went up stairs or down,
At nurse or mother's call;
But then, he took fast hold the while,
Lest he should get a fall.


See how my Harry hangs his head,
And rubs his little peepy;
'Tis time to trot up stairs to bed
When babies are so sleepy.


Then let us put his playthings by,
Jane's rattle, and her dolly;
We must not leave all things awry,
To make more work for Molly.
Come trip up stairs with nimble feet,
—A kiss for dear Mamma;
Hark, hark, she says "farewell my sweet,"
And Harry says, "ta, ta."
(He does not say—"Mamma, do let
Me stop a little longer?"
Indulgence soon would spoil her pet,
And make his will grow stronger.)
Now, we must all the windows shut,
And let the curtains down;
Now, on the little cap we'll put,
And now the sleeping gown.
My Harry must lie still, and keep
The bed-clothes nice and even;
"Ta, ta,"—he'll soon be fast asleep,
For, hark! the clock strikes seven.

Harry has a Sister. pa 19.

Harry has a Sister. pa 19.
And though he kiss'd or patted her, Too hard he did not press. pa 19.

And, though he kiss'd or patted her,

Too hard he did not press. pa 19.



Harry can skip, or jump, or play,
Just at his own desire;
But once he was a careless boy,
And went too near the fire.
And had not nurse, with watchful eye,
Beheld, and quickly turn'd
His pinafore had caught the flame,
His hair had all been burn'd.
Papa had seen a guard so nice,
That fitted round a fire;
He order'd one for Harry's room,
With closely platted wire.
See now he plays with nimble step,
And fearless of all harm;
And yet he can, on Winter days,
His little fingers warm.
A lamp, two yards above the floor,
Is fasten'd to the wall;
For candles, on a table put,
Might quickly get a fall.


A basin and a jug, and soap,
With water from the well,
Plac'd on a little frame of wood,
Suit nurse and Harry well.
And nicely furnish'd is our room,
With things that will not spoil;
Mamma too kind and thoughtful is
To make much care or toil.
She likes her darling babes to play
At liberty and ease,
And still, in having useful things,
Takes care they do not tease.


Poor Jane! what is it grieves her so?
Why sobs her little heart?
She cries, because she wants to have
Her brother's nice new cart.
But Harry now is so intent
Unloading all his store,
She must, my darling, wait awhile,
Until his game is o'er.


To please and gratify, we must
Not rob and grieve another;
Justice should always be our guide,
And feeling for the other.
And tho' 'tis pleasant, when a child
Will freely give or lend;
If we oblige them to be kind,
We soon defeat our end.
We'll pacify with kindest art,
And other thoughts excite;
We'll try, with tender care, to lead,
The infant wish aright.
We must a good beginning make
For every useful lesson;
We must enforce from earliest years
The practice of submission.

N. B.—A little publication, entitled "Hints for the Improvement of Early Education," the writer recommends to the increased attention of every conscientious mother.—These rhymes make but very humble pretensions, and are likewise much limited, from various considerations; so that many of the more important subjects of education could not be touched upon.



Harry looks so sick and ill,
Harry is so cold and chill,
Nurse does almost think, and fear,
Something's the matter with her dear.
Let me feel his little feet,
If they're nicely warm, my sweet!
Ah! they are both damp and cold;
And that should never be, I'm told.
Let us fetch the little tub,
And water warm, his feet to rub;
We'll bathe them well; then by and by
We'll wash them clean, and wipe them dry.
If feet are cold, Mamma can tell
Her children will not long be well;
And often have I heard her say,
"That case admits of no delay."


My Harry is not quite so good
At dinner as I wish;
He sometimes is a dainty boy,
Unless he likes the dish.

Nurse telling Harry a tale, about catching flies. pa 27.

Nurse telling Harry a tale, about catching flies. pa 27.
The girl who hurt herself with the table. pa 30.

The girl who hurt herself with the table. pa 30.


He, sometimes says he does not like
His pudding and his meat,
If, on the sideboard he can see
A pie or custard sweet.
But mother does not choose her boy
Should follow ways like these;
And if his plate he does not clean,
He has no pie nor cheese.
Mamma knows that, whate'er she gives
Her boy, is always good;
And she is never pleas'd to hear
Remarks about his food.
How many a half-starv'd little boy
Has nought whereon to feed!
While happy Henry, day by day,
Has all that he can need.

Note. What a privilege those children enjoy who are allowed to take their meals with their parents! Many children are really brought up in habits of daintiness and gluttony, through the mistaken kindness of nurses, who are not aware that they are laying the foundation for future misery. And who is more miserable than the epicure? surrounded by the blessings of a bountiful Giver,—and yet dissatisfied with all! Surely poverty, with thankfulness, is not half so wretched a condition!



What have I got in this blue cup?
'Tis senna-tea: come, drink it up.
Now come, my little Harry, haste;
What! say he does not like the taste?
These raisins, with a crust of bread,
Will make a pleasant taste instead,
There! now 'tis gone,—both taste and smell;
My little boy has managed well;
Mamma shall know her darling can
Drink senna-tea, just like a man:
For, tho' it is not nice to take,
Med'cine oft cures both pain and ache.
Some naughty children will not try
To drink their senna-tea, but cry;
Then worse and worse they grow, instead,
And often lie for weeks in bed,
When early care, without delay,
Might send their poorliness away.
When nurses have a sickly charge,
Their stock of patience should be large;
[27] Their kindness and obliging care,
Should teach them peevishness to bear;
But then, in what is needful,—right,
Their hold should be both firm and tight;
Then love and confidence would still
Meet in obedience to their will,
And children would not dare to be
Unruly with their senna-tea.

Note. The practice of giving children sweet things, such as comfits and lozenges, cannot be too much reprobated. They fill children with ill-humors, by impairing digestion; they disorder the bowels, by producing an unnatural fermentation; they prevent the relish and enjoyment of plain food, and create in the little sufferer a continual craving for indulgencies. A little dried fruit, on proper occasions, is not unwholesome.


Now, Harry, I've a tale to tell,
So sit upon this chair;
It is of what one day befell
A little maid so fair.


She had a trick of catching flies,
And as I understand,
Regardless of their shape or size,
Would clasp them in her hand.
A sly young bee that knew the way
Some window-plants to gain,
Yet choosing an unwise delay
Was creeping on the pane:
The thoughtless child, on mischief bent,
Soon caught him by the wing;
But she, on cruelty intent,
Was punished with a sting.
Nurse heard a cry of pain and grief,
And tho' it seems quite funny,
The little girl soon found relief
From poultice made of honey.[3]

A little Boy who was afraid in the dark. pa 32.

A little Boy who was afraid in the dark. pa 32.
Nurse's reflections on the advantages of truth and sincerity. pa 34.

Nurse's reflections on the advantages of truth and sincerity. pa 34.


Now since that time, I do expect,
She'll hurt poor flies no more;
The little maid will oft reflect
On all she's done before.
O, Harry, it is sad, indeed,
To hurt a living thing!
And those who do it, really need,
A rod, if not a sting.


A little girl, I also knew,
With cheeks of red, and eyes of blue;
And though she was at learning quick,
She had full many an awkward trick.
She ate so fast,—so often spoke,—
Mamma was much afraid she'd choke;
Her spice she ate, too, with such haste,
She would not let her brother taste.
And habits such as these 'twas thought,
She learn'd from what her nurse had taught.[4]
[30] This little girl would often climb,
And so it happen'd that, one time,
Attempting more than she was able,
She fell against a dining table.
Loud did she cry "I've hurt my head!
O, naughty table!" then she said,
And sobbing loud, and crying more,
Began to beat the table sore.
Mamma was sadly griev'd to find
Her darling to such tricks inclin'd,
But watchful care, with language mild,
Soon check'd this temper in the child.
"Such foolish ways, my Harry! shock!
He knows a table feels no knock:
And, if it did, he would not like,
He would not even dare, to strike.
[31] He knows the maxim of the good—
'Do as you wish that others should.'
Revenge makes naughty passions grow,
It plants the root of endless wo;
A boy that follows long this plan,
Will fight when he is grown a man."


Young Andrew Fearful was a child
Most pleasing to behold,
His temper was so sweet and mild,
And he was four years old.
But one sad failing Andrew had,
Tho' gay as any lark,
With scarce one habit that was bad,
He did not like the dark.


As soon as candlelight appear'd
On evening fireside table,
To walk about he scarcely dared,
Though he was strong and able.
And shadows flitting on the wall,
Made Andrew jump and stare;
He thought some mischief would befall
With such great monsters there.
Mamma, in many a pleasant way,
Contriv'd the help he needed;
And glad I am that I can say,
Her care at last succeeded.
She took him to a room quite dark,
And led him by the hand
To some known object, as a mark,
And then they both would stand.
The room shut in, without a light,
He did not much enjoy,
And Andrew fear'd to step aright;
So foolish was this boy.

Harry at dinner. pa 24.

Harry at dinner. pa 24.
Taking medicine. pa 26.

Taking medicine. pa 26.


But growing bolder, he would try
The furniture to handle;
And Andrew, fearless by and by,
Scarce wish'd to have a candle,
Mamma, a paper nicely tied.
Would place behind the curtain,
With figs, or Pomfret cakes, supplied,
And then the joy was certain.
The shadows which he used to fear,
Became his great delight;
With joy mamma beheld her dear
So pleas'd with candlelight.
Thus many a pleasant hour beguil'd,
Young Andrew's courage grew;
Mamma was happier in her child,
And he was happier too.

Note. Nurses are not sufficiently aware of the importance of guarding against early impressions of fear. In this respect, as in many others, it is much easier to prevent a bad habit, than to cure one. Too much care and tenderness of feeling cannot be used towards those children who have unfortunately imbibed a fear of the dark; yet, on the other hand, judicious care should be exercised, that the habit may not be fostered by over-indulgence.



If children are taught the whole lesson of truth,
"'Twill bud in their childhood, and blossom in youth."
This maxim I learnt from the pen of a sage,
Whose vigor of mind was still green in old age:
And much do I wish that my charge may be found
On that ladder of learning where Truth is the ground;
The foundation so broad makes the ladder stand even;
And Truth's certain steps lead with safety to Heaven.
Then, first, I'll be careful what language I use,
That simple chaste words may express all my views:
I'll watch o'er my actions with studious aim,
That I may not, in future, deserve any blame;
[35] That bad habits may not from my errors proceed,
Or my fair little plants be o'ergrown with a weed,
My word and my promise shall always abide.
And Truth and Sincerity sit side by side.
Should I promise a thing which I do not perform,
I lay the foundation for much future harm:
If children learn falsehood from nurses or mothers,
When grown up they will practise deceit upon others.
Then nought but the truth to my child shall be spoken:
If I once make a promise, it shall not be broken.[5]
[36] As the best thing of all, I will constantly try
To watch over myself with a vigilant eye;
My passions and faults so to mend or remove,
That all may be lost in obedience and love;
That, in practice, I never may knowingly swerve,
From the wishes of those whom I honour and serve:
But with eye singly fix'd, to my duty inclin'd,
Let me show forth a meek and a teachable mind;
On reproof or instruction not daring to trample,
May I always remember the force of example!


J. May, Printer, &c. Dover.

A walk in the country. pa 12.

A walk in the country. pa 12.
A walk in the town. pa 14.

A walk in the town. pa 14.


[1] The writer has been told that one species of the buttercup is poisonous: and there are many flowers which it would be hurtful for children to suck.

[2] The writer was recommended to try a piece of leather, and has found it to produce less irritation than any of the hard substances so often used. Some mothers prefer Indian-rubber.

[3] Spirits of hartshorn, if immediately applied, will likewise effectually remove the pain of a sting.

Spirits of turpentine, in case of a burn or scald, is a valuable acquisition to a nurse-maid's closet. Its constant application till the fire is extracted, prevents those bad consequences which sometimes arise from neglect, or inefficient means.

[4] In order to induce children to take their food, some persons are apt to say, "Come, my dear, make haste, or brother (or sister) shall have it! no, no, brother! you shall not have it!" Now every expression of this kind will infallibly create selfishness and greediness. A mode of conduct directly opposite should be enforced; that children may be taught to find their chief happiness in promoting the pleasure of their brothers and sisters, even by the sacrifice of their own.

[5] Nurses should also be very cautious how they use threats to children. If they threaten to tell Mamma any thing, or to withhold any indulgence in case of naughtiness, let it be strictly attended to. If it be not attended to, children are great observers, and will soon find that but little regard is paid to truth; and thus incalculable evils may be the result. Some nurses, and even mothers, are apt to bribe their children in this way: "If my dear will do this, I'll give him a sugar-plum;" or, "Will he do so or so, if I give him a sugar-plum?" thus bringing down the standard of parental authority to the petulance or caprice of the child.—Can obedience ever be expected from one whose self-will is thus nurtured? Surely it must be from want of reflection, that mothers entail so much trouble upon themselves and their children!

ONE SHILLING BOOKS, With Copper-plates.


Obvious printer errors have been corrected. Otherwise, the author's original spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been left intact.