The Mad Dog / one of R. Caldecott’s Picture Books / Frederick Warne and Co. Ltd.

The words of “Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog”—to give the poem its full name—date all the way back to 1766. In Chapter XVII of Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield it is sung by the narrator’s son; that explains the “Master Bill Primrose” on the title page. In 1879, the verses became part of the Caldecott Picture Book series, produced by Randolph Caldecott for the publisher Rout­ledge. (The back cover gives a full list of titles. For more of them, try Project Gutenberg.)

Unlike many well-known illustrators, Randolph Caldecott (1846–1886) didn’t fast-track into artistic success. After leaving school in 1861 he went to work in a bank, which seems to have been the default career path for lower-middle-class men of his time. But by 1872 he was able to quit his day job and become a full-time illustrator.

If his name seems familiar, it may be because he is the namesake of the Caldecott Medal, awarded annually since 1938 to honor illustration of children’s books. Winners over the years have included Make Way for Ducklings, Madeline’s Rescue, Where the Wild Things Are and The Polar Express, which should give you some idea. Understandably, most honorees have been picture books. But some titles for older children, like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, have also won.

About the year 1900, well after the artist’s death, the whole Caldecott Picture Book collection—including the original plates—was sold to Frederick Warne. They have been reprinted several times since then, both in the original 9 × 8¼ in. format and in a half-size version.


This ebook is based on the undated Frederick Warne edition. Since I’ve never seen either version of the original, it seemed safest to leave the color illustrations just as they came out of the scanner.

Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the bottom of the page. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.


color picture: seated woman play8ing a lute, standing child, cat and kitten

title page (see bottom for full text)

title page text


line drawing: small boy facing man and two girls

GOOD people all, of every sort,

Give ear unto my song;

And if you find it wondrous short,


line drawing: group of people and dog departing for a picnic

It cannot hold you long.


color picture: family looking out of house door as man in blue walks by


line drawing: people walking along a road

In Islington there lived a man,

Of whom the world might say,

That still a godly race he ran,


line drawing: two elderly woman talking by a picket fence

Whene’er he went


line drawing: man walking behind a picket fence

to pray.


color picture: man getting dressed, with curtained bed in background


line drawing: man bringing food to man and woman in stocks

A kind and gentle heart he had,

To comfort friends and foes;

The naked every day he clad,


line drawing: man sitting on bed pulling on his stockings

When he put on


line drawing: man putting on his coat

his clothes.


color picture: scraggly-looking dog sitting by a fence


line drawing: group of dogs near a gated wall

And in that town a dog was found:

As many dogs there be—

line drawing: three different dogs

Both mongrel, puppy, whelp,


and hound

And curs of low degree.


line drawing: man seated at dinner table slipping a bit to a dog

This dog and man at first were friends;


line drawing: man leaning back at table, looking at cat in front of him

But, when a pique began,


The dog, to gain some private ends,

line drawing: dog acting deranged

Went mad, and bit the man.


color picture: dog biting man on the calf


line drawing: woman at well looks at dog slinking by

Around from all


line drawing: people fleeing in all directions as dog runs along the street

the neighbouring streets


line drawing: girls and women running

The wondering neighbours ran;


color picture: many people running down a street, with others watching from windows


line drawing: people talking at a window

And swore the dog had lost his wits,


line drawing: people and dogs hurrying along the street

To bite so good a man.


line drawing: injured man being helped to a chair

The wound it seem’d both sore and sad

To every christian eye;


color picture: seated man having his leg bandaged as many people look on


line drawing: two sad men in conversation

And while they swore the dog was mad,


line drawing: woman around a table, with bedridden man in background

They swore the man would die.


But soon a wonder came to light,

That show’d the rogues they lied—

line drawing: man walking proudly along the road as seated women look on

The man recover’d of the bite,

line drawing: dog at sunset

The dog it was that died.


color picture: man and large group of dogs looking at dead dog

back cover, with text (below)

back cover text

Text of Title Page


on the DEATH of




SUNG By Master Bill Primrose

Text of Back Cover

Randolph Caldecott’s
Picture Books

The humour of Randolph Caldecott’s drawings is simply irresistible, no healthy-minded man, woman, or child could look at them without laughing.

In square crown 4to, picture covers, with numerous coloured plates.

1 John Gilpin
2 The House that Jack Built
3 The Babes in the Wood
4 The Mad Dog
5 Three Jovial Huntsmen
6 Sing a Song for Sixpence
7 The Queen of Hearts
8 The Farmer’s Boy
9 The Milkmaid
10 Hey-Diddle-Diddle and Baby Bunting
11 A Frog He Would a-Wooing Go
12 The Fox Jumps over the Parson’s Gate
13 Come Lasses and Lads
14 Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross, &c.
15 Mrs. Mary Blaize
16 The Great Panjandrum Himself

The above selections are also issued in Four Volumes, square crown 4to, attractive binding, red edges. Each containing four different books, with their Coloured Pictures and innumerable Outline Sketches.

1 R. Caldecott’s Picture Book No. 1
2 R. Caldecott’s Picture Book No. 2
3 Hey-Diddle-Diddle-Picture Book
4 The Panjandrum Picture Book

And also
In Two Volumes, handsomely bound in cloth, each containing eight different books, with their Coloured Pictures and numerous Outline Sketches.

R. Caldecott’s
Collection of
Pictures and Songs No. 1

R. Caldecott’s
Collection of
Pictures and Songs No. 2

Miniature Editions,
size 5½ by 4½.
Art Boards, flat back

Nos. 1 and 2
Each containing coloured
plates and numerous
Outline Sketches
in the text

Miniature Editions,
size 5½ by 4½.
Art Boards, flat back

Nos. 1 and 2
These are exact
replicas of the
large Books

Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd.

The Published Prices of the above Picture Books can be obtained of all Booksellers or from the Illustrated Catalogue of the Publishers

Notes and Corrections

They swore the man would die.
. missing or invisible

[Back Cover] square crown 4to
[According to William Savage’s ever-useful Dictionary of the Art of Printing, ordinary crown paper measures 20 × 15 inches. He notes, however, that paper has recently begun to be dutied according to weight, rather than size, so there was increasing room for variation. Square crown would most likely measure 17 or 18 inches each way.]

[Back Cover] Hey-Diddle-Diddle-Picture Book
[Printed as shown; the final hyphen seems spurious.]

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.