voices from the past


Cole's Funny Picture Book No. 1

written and compiled by Edward William Cole (1832-1918)
First published in 1879 by Cole Publications, Melbourne, Australia

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The following is an excerpt from Cole's book. I've selected the ones I remember from my childhood.
The book was compiled over 130 years ago. I found it interesting how they changed over the years.
Is this how you remember it?


 Jack Sprat

Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
  His wife could eat no lean,
And so between them both
  They licked the platter clean.
Jack ate all the lean,
  Joan ate all the fat,
The bone they both picked clean,
  Then gave it to the cat.

When Jack Sprat was young,
  He dressed very smart,
He courted Joan Cole,
  And soon gained her heart;
In his fine leather doublet
  And old greasy hat,
Oh! what a smart fellow
  Was little Jack Sprat.

Joan Cole had a hole
  In her petticoat,
Jack Sprat, to get a patch,
  Gave her a groat.
The groat bought a patch
  Which stopped the hole,
"I thank you, Jack Sprat,"
  Says little Joan Cole.

Jack Sprat was the bridegroom,
  Joan Cole was the bride,
Jack said from the church
  His Joan home should ride.
But no coach could take her,
  The road was so narrow;
Said Jack, "Then I'll take her
  Home in a wheelbarrow."

Jack Sprat was wheeling
  His wife by a ditch,
Then the barrow turned over,
  And in she did pitch.
Says Jack, "She'll be drown'd!"
  But Joan did reply,
"I don't think I shall,
  For the ditch is quite dry."

Jack brought home his Joan,
  And she sat in a chair,
When in came his cat,
  That had got but one ear.
Says Joan "I've come home,
  Pray how do you do?"
The cat wagg'd her tail
  And said nothing but "mew."

Jack Sprat took his gun,
  And went to the brook;
He shot at the drake,
  But he killed the duck.
He bought it home to Joan,
  Who a fire did make,
To roast the fat duck
  While Jack went for the drake.

The drake was swimming
  With his curly tail,
Jack Sprat came to soot him,
  But happened to fail.
He let off his gun,
  But missing the mark,
The drake flew away
 Crying "Quack, quack, quack."

Jack Sprat to live pretty
  Now bought him a pig,
It was not very little,
  It was not very big;
It was not very lean,
  It was not very fat,
"It will serve for a grunter,"
  Said little Jack Sprat.

Then Joan went to market
  To buy her some fowls,
She bought a jackdaw
  And a couple of owls;
The owls were white,
  The jackdaw was black,
"They'll make a rare breed,"
  Says little Joan Sprat.

Jack Sprat bought a cow,
  His Joan to please,
For Joan could make
  Both butter and cheese;
Or pancakes or puddings
  Without any fat;
A notable housewife
  Was little Joan Sprat.

Joan Sprat went to brewing
  A barrel of ale,
She put in some hops
  That it might not turn stale;
But as for the malt
  She forgot to put that;
"This is a brave sober liquor."
  Said little Jack Sprat.

Jack Sprat went to market
  And bought him a mare,
She was lame of three legs,
  An as blind as she could stare.
Her ribs they were bare,
  For the mare had no fat;
"She looks like a racer,"
  Said little Jack Sprat.

Jack and Joan went abroad,
  Puss looked after the house;
She caught a large rat,
  And a very small mouse,
She caught a small mouse,
  And a very large rat,
"You're an excellent hunter,"
  Said little Jack Sprat.

Now I've told you the story
  Of little Jack Sprat,
Of sweet Joan Cole
  And the poor one-ear'd cat;
Now Jack he loved Joan,
  And good things he taught her,
Then she gave him a son,
  Then after a daughter.

Now Jack has got rich,
  And has plenty of pelf;
If you know any more
  you may tell it yourself.


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About the Author

See our page on Edward William Cole. It includes a linked list of all his writing available on our website.

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