"His Imperial Fatness was graciously pleased to say 'I don’t care!'"
"'Don’t-care' came to a bad end," Sylvie whispered to Bruno. "I’m not sure, but I believe he was hanged."
Sylvie and Bruno by Lewis Carroll, 1889.
Don’t care didn’t care is a traditional nursery rhyme, although it might better be identified as a cautionary tale. It is believed to have originated in London's East End, but was well-known throughout England. It is rarely included in nursery rhyme collections, and so is not well-known in America.
Don’t care didn’t care
Don’t care was wild
Don’t care stole plum and pear
Like any beggar’s child.
Don’t care was made to care
Don’t care was hung
Don’t care was put in a pot
And boiled till he was done."
In the mid-1800s, this rhyme was well enough recognized that Don't Care could be referred to as if he were a real person; the question "what happened to Don't Care?" was a common reminder to children as to why the comment 'don't care' was not just rude, but unwise. The correct response was something along the lines of "he came to a bad end".
References to Young Mister Don't Care also appear in Punch, Volume 14: Little Lesson's for Little Statesmen (1848), Rudyard Kipling's short story Below The Mill Dam (in Traffics and Discoveries, 1904), Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons (1930), Maurice Sendak's Pierre (A Cautionary Tale) (1962; not mentioned by name), and a number of other works and articles. Sadly, today's youth generally are unaware of what happened to Don't Care.