By Guest Contributor Eugene Field.

The Bad Man.

Here is a Man who has just Stopped his Paper. What a Miserable looking Creature he is. He looks as if he had been stealing Sheep. How will he Know what is going on, now that he has Stopped his Paper? He will Borrow his Neighbor’s Paper. One of these Days he will Break his leg, or be a Candidate for Office, and then the Paper will Say Nothing about it. That will be treating him just Right, will it not, little Children?

The Editor’s Knife.

Here we have a Knife. It looks like a Saw, but it is a knife. It belongs to an Editor, and is used for Sharpening Pencils, killing Roaches, opening Champagne Bottles, and Cutting the Hearts out of Bad men who Come into the office to Whale the Reporters. There is Blood on the Blade of the Knife, but the Editor will Calmly Lick it off, and then the Blade will be as clean and Bright as ever. The Knife cost seventy Cents, and was Imported from London, Connecticut. If you are Good, perhaps the Editor will Give it to you to Cut off the Cat’s Tail.

The Nasty Oil.

Do not take the Castor Oil. It is very Nasty and will Make you sick. Mamma wants you to Take it so you Will be Sick and can’t go Out and Play with the other Boys and Girls. If Mamma will give you a Velocipede and a Goat and a Top and a Doll, then you may Take the Castor Oil and it will not Hurt you.

Generous Richard.

This is good Little Richard. His Mamma has Taught him to be Generous. See, he has the Measles, and he is going over to Give them to his Neighbors. Is he not a Nice Boy? When you get the Measles, you must give them to all the little Boys and Girls you can. If you Do, maybe your Mamma will Give you Something. I guess she will Give you a Licking.

The Bad Mamma.

Why is this little Girl crying? Because her Mamma will not let her put Molasses and Feathers on the Baby’s face. What a bad Mamma! The little Girl who never had any Mamma must enjoy herself. Papas are Nicer than Mammas. No little girl ever Marries a Mamma, and perhaps that is Why Mammas are so Bad to little Girls. Never mind; when Mamma goes out of the Room, Slap the horrid Baby, and if it Cries, you can tell your Mamma it Has the Colic.

The Contribution Plate.

This is a Contribution Plate. It has just been Handed around. What is there upon it? Now Count very Slow or you will Make a Mistake. Four Buttons, one Nickel, a Blue Chip, and one Spectacle glass. Yes, that is Right. What will be Done with all these Nice things? They will be sent to foreign Countries for the good of the Poor Heathens. How the Poor Heathens will Rejoice.

The Proof-Reader.

See the Proof-Reader. He has been reading the Proof of a Medical Convention. He is not Swearing. He is reading the Bible. You cannot See the Bible. It is Locked up in an Iron Box in the Editor’s Room. The Proof-Reader is Saying something about Damming Something. Perhaps it is the Creek.

The Mud.

The Mud is in the Street. The Lady has on a pair of Red Stockings. She is Trying to Cross the Street. Let us all give Three cheers for the Mud.

Mamma’s Scissors.

These are Mamma’s Scissors. They do not Seem to be in good Health. Well, they are a little Aged. They have considerable Work to Do. Mamma uses them to Chop Kindling, cut Stove Pipe, pull Tacks, drive Nails, cut the children’s Hair, punch new Holes in the Calendar, slice Bar soap, pound beef Steak, open tomato Cans, Shear the New Foundland dog, and cut out her New silk Dress. Why doesn’t Papa get Mamma a new Pair of Scissors? You should not Ask such a Naughty question. Papa cannot Afford to Play Billiards and Indulge his Extravagant Family in the Luxuries of Life.

The Poet

Who is this Creature with Long Hair and a Wild Eye? He is a poet. He writes Poems on Spring and Women’s Eyes and Strange, unreal Things of that Kind. He is always Wishing he was Dead, but he wouldn’t Let anybody Kill him if he could Get away. A mighty good Sausage Stuffer was Spoiled when the Man became a Poet. He would Look well Standing under a Descending Pile Driver.

The Business Manager.

Here we Have a Business Manager. He is Blowing about the Circulation of the Paper. He is Saying the Paper has Entered upon an Era of Unprecedented Prosperity. In a Minute he will Go up Stairs and Chide the Editor for leaving his Gas Burning while he Went out for a Drink of Water, and he will dock a Reporter Four Dollars because a Subscriber has Licked him and he cannot Work. Little Children, if we Believed Business Managers went to Heaven, we would Give up our Pew in Church.

Dr._Boli's_Anthology_Cover_for_KindleThis essay and hundreds of pages of other amusements may be found in Dr. Boli’s Anthology of American Humor, now available in splendid paperback or as a free PDF download. Look at the PDF, and if you think this book is exactly what you need to hand out to your entire Sunday-school class, buy the paperback book.


  1. DmL says:

    Are there supposed to images with each vignette, or only the first?

    • Dr. Boli says:

      We added only one of the Opper cartoons from the 1901 edition of the book, but there were many more (not one for each paragraph, but one every other page or so). The whole book is here.

      The Tribune Primer seems to have an interesting history. It was privately published at first, but gained such a reputation that the Mutual Book Company picked it up and added drawings by F. Opper, who was just making a name for himself as one of America’s favorite cartoonists.

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