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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Oliver Herford (1863–1935)

Child’s Natural History


EV-ER-Y child who has the use

Of his sen-ses knows a goose.

Sees them un-der-neath the tree

Gath-er round the goose-girl’s knee,

While she reads them by the hour

From the works of Scho-pen-hau-er.

How pa-tient-ly the geese at-tend!

But do they re-al-ly com-pre-hend

What Scho-pen-hau-er’s driv-ing at?

Oh, not at all; but what of that?

Nei-ther do I; nei-ther does she;

And, for that mat-ter, nor does he.


See, children, the Fur-bear-ing Seal;

Ob-serve his mis-di-rect-ed zeal;

He dines with most ab-ste-mi-ous care

On Fish, Ice Water, and Fresh Air,

A-void-ing con-di-ments or spice

For fear his fur should not be nice

And fine and soft and smooth and meet

For Broad-way or for Re-gent Street;

And yet, some-how, I of-ten feel

(Though for the kind Fur-bear-ing Seal

I har-bor a Re-spect Pro-found)

He runs Fur-bear-ance in the ground.


My child, ob-serve the use-ful Ant,

How hard she works each day;

She works as hard as ad-a-mant

(That’s very hard, they say).

She has no time to gal-li-vant;

She has no time to play.

Let Fi-do chase his tail all day;

Let Kit-ty play at tag;

She has no time to throw away,

She has no tail to wag;

She scur-ries round from morn till night;

She nev-er, nev-er sleeps;

She seiz-es ev-er-y-thing in sight,

She drags it home with all her might,

And all she takes she keeps.


This is the Yak, so neg-li-gée;

His coif-fure’s like a stack of hay;

He lives so far from Any-where,

I fear the Yak neg-lects his hair,

And thinks, since there is none to see,

What mat-ter how un-kempt he be.

How would he feel if he but knew

That in this Pic-ture-book I drew

His Phys-i-og-no-my un-shorn,

For chil-dren to de-ride and scorn?


Alas! my Child, where is the Pen

That can do justice to the Hen?

Like Royalty, she goes her way,

Laying foundations every day;

Though not for Public Buildings, yet

For Custard, Cake, and Omelet.

Or if too Old for such a use,

They have their Fling at some Abuse,

As when to Censure Plays Unfit

Upon the Stage they make a Hit.

Or at elections Seal the Fate

Of an Obnoxious Candidate.

No wonder, Child, we prize the Hen,

Whose Egg is Mightier than the Pen.


The Cow is too well known, I fear,

To need an introduction here.

If She should vanish from earth’s face,

It would be hard to fill her place;

For with the Cow would disappear

So much that every one holds Dear.

Oh, think of all the Boots and Shoes,

Milk Punches, Gladstone Bags, and Stews,

And Things too numerous to count,

Of which, my Child, she is the Fount.

Let’s hope, at least, the Fount may last

Until our Generation’s past.