We always thought the New England Primer was the most morbid of alphabet books--at least of the ones that were meant for children. But, we just bought one printed here in Hanover in 1811 that gives it a run for its money.
Where the New England Primer uses "In Adam's fall, we sinned All" to illustrate A, The Royal Alphabet, Embellished with Cuts, Designed for the Amusement and Use of Little Children (Hanover: Charles Speare, 1811) offers the following charming rhyme:
"The Axe which traitors often dread
And husbandmen employ;
Will sure, in time cut off the head Of every naughty boy."
X focuses on the crucifixion of Christ, but at least offers future hope. What lessons are being taught here? Surely more than the alphabet. One wonders what Hanover kids thought of it in 1811. To see it, come in and ask for 1926 Coll R6878.