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A NONSENSE ANTHOLOGY



T TE must be a fool indeed who cannot at
* * times play the fool ; and be who does not
enjoy nonsense must be lacking in sense.

WILLIAM J. ROLFE.







A

Nonsense

Anthology

3?



Collected by

Carolyn Wells







New Yorlv

Charles Scribner's Sons



1003






COPYRIGHT, 1902, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS



PUBLISHED, OCTOBER, 1902



-7 I '

' rv OF f\

CITY OF NEW YORK



JI988IO



TO
GELETT BURGESS

04

o

A NONSENSE LOVER



CONTENTS



INTRODUCTION

JABBKRWOCKY

MORS IABROCHII .

THE NYUM-NYUM

UFFIA

SPIRK TROLL-DERISIVE .

THE WHANGO TREE

SING FOR THE GARISH
EYE

THE CRUISE OF THE
"P. C." ....

To MARIE

LUNAR STANZAS .

NONSENSE

SONNET FOUND IN A DE-
SERTED MAD HOUSE .

THE OCEAN WANDERER.

SHE'S ALL MY FANCY
PAINTED HIM .

MY RECOLLECTEST
THOUGHTS ....

FATHER WILLIAM

IN THE GLOAMING

BALLAD OF BEDLAM .

'Tis SWEET TO ROAM .

HYMN TO THE SUNRISE .

THE MOON is UP .



Lewis Carroll .
Anonymous
Anonymous
Harriet R. White
James Whitcomb Riley
1840



W. S. Gilbert

Anonymous ....
Anonymous ....
Henry Coggswell Knight
Anonymous, 1617

Anonymous . . . .
Anonymous ....

Lewis Carroll ....

Charles E. Carryl .
Anonymous .
James C. Bayles .

Punch

Anonymous .
Anonymous .
Anonymous .
[vii]



PAGE
XV

3

4
6

10
10

12

'3



14

15
16

18

18

20

21

22
23

*4
5

2 S
26



Contents



PAGE

'Tis MIDNIGHT . . . Anonymous . 26
UPRISING SEE THE FITFUL

LARK Anonymous .... 27

LIKE TO THE THUNDER-
ING TONE .... Bishop Corbet ... 27
MY DREAM .... Anonymous .... 28

MY HOME Anonymous .... 29

IN IMMEMORIAM . . . Cuthbert Bedc ... 29
THE HIGHER PANTHEISM

IN A NUTSHELL . . . A. C. Swinburne ... 30

DARVVINITY .... Herman Merivale . . . 31

SONG OF THE SCREW . . Anonymous .... 33

MOORLANDS OF THE NOT Anonymous .... 36

METAPHYSICS .... Oliver Herford ... 36

ABSTROSOPHY .... Gelett Burgess ... 37

ABSTEMIA ..... Gelett Burgess ... 38

PSYCHOLOPHON . . . Gelett Burgess ... 39

TIMON OF ARCHIMEDES . Charles Battell Loomis . 39

ALONE Anonymous .... 40

LINES BY A MEDIUM . . Anonymous .... 41

TRANSCENDENTALISM . . From the Times of India 41

INDIFFERENCE .... Anonymous .... 42

QUATRAIN Anonymous .... 43

COSSIMBAZAR .... Henry S. Leigh ... 43
THE PERSONIFIED SENTI-
MENTAL Bret Harte .... 44

A CLASSIC ODE . . . Charles Battell Loomis . 45
WHERE AVALANCHES

WAIL Anonymous .... 45

BLUE MOONSHINE . . . Francis G. Stokes . . 46

NONSENSE ....... Thomas Moore ... 47



Contents



SUPERIOR NONSENSE
VERSES

WHEN MOON LIKE ORE
THE HAZURE SEAS .

LINES BY A PERSON OF
QUALITY ....

FRANGIPANNI ....

LINES BY A FOND LOVER

FORCING A WAY .

THY HEART

A LOVE-SONG BY A Lu-
NATIC ... . .

THE PARTERRE

To MOLLIDUSTA .

JOHN JONES ....

THE OWL AND THE PUSSY-
CAT

A BALLADE OF THE NUR-
SERIE

A BALLAD OF HIGH EN-
DEAVOR

THE LUGUBRIOUS WHING-
WHANG

OH ! WEARY MOTHER .

Swiss AIR

THE BULBUL ....

BALLAD

OH, MY GERALDINE .

Buz, QUOTH THE BLUE
FLY

A SONG ON KING WIL-
LIAM III



Anonymous

W. M. Thackeray

Alexander Pope .
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous .



Anonymous

E. H. Palmer.
Planche ....
A. C. Swinburne

Edward Lear .
John Twig
Anonymous .

James Whitcomb Riley
Barry Pain ....
Bret Harte ....
Owen Seaman
Anonymous .

F. C. Burnand



Ben Jonson ,

Anonymous
[ix]'



47
49

5
5 1
53
54
55

55
56

57
57

59

60

62

63
64
64
6 5

65
66

66
67



Contents



PAGE

THERE WAS A MONKEY . . Anonymous, 1626 . 67

THE GUINEA PIG .... Anonymous ... 68

THREE CHILDREN . . . . London, 1662 . . 69

IF Anonymous ... 70

A RIDDLE Anonymous ... 70

THREE JOVIAL HUNTSMEN . Anonymous ... 70

THREE ACRES OF LAND . . Anonymous ... 71

MASTER AND MAN . . . Anonymous ... 72

HYDER IDDLE Anonymous ... 73

KING ARTHUR .... Anonymous ... 73

IN THE DUMPS .... Anonymous ... 74

TWEEDLE-DUM AND TwEE-

DLE-DEE Anonymous ... 74

MARTIN TO HIS MAN . . . From Deuteromelia . 74

THE YoNGHY-BoNGHY-B6 . Edward Lear . . 76

THE POBBLE WHO HAS NO

TOES Edward Lear ... 81

THE JUMBLIES Edward Lear ... 83

INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF

MY UNCLE ARLY . . . Edward Lear ... 86
LINES TO A YOUNG LADY . Edward Lear ... 88
WAYS AND MEANS . . . Lewis Carroll ... 90
THE WALRUS AND THE CAR-
PENTER ... . Lewis Carroll ... 93
THE HUNTING OF THE

SNARK Lewis Carroll ... 97

SYLVIE AND BRUNO . . . Lewis Carroll . . . 101

GENTLE ALICE BROWN . . W. S. Gilbert . . 102

THE STORY OF PRINCE AGIB W. S. Gilbert . , 107
FERDINANDO AND ELVIRA, OR

THE GENTLE PIEMAN . . W. S. Gilbert . . no



Contents



GENERAL JOHN

LITTLE BILLEE

Tin: WRI:CK. OF THE
" JULIE Pi. ANTE "

THE SHIPWRECK .

A SAILOR'S YARN

THE WALLOPING WIN-
DOW-BLIND .

THE ROLLICKING MASTO-
DON

THE SILVER QUESTION .

THE SINGULAR SANGFROID
OF BAKY BUNTING

FAITHLESS NELLY GRAY .

THE ELDERLY GENTLE-
MAN

MALUM OPUS . . . .

ESTIVATION .

A HOLIDAY TASK

PUER EX JERSEY .

THE LITTLE PEACH .

MONSIEUR McGiNTE .

YE LAYE OF YE WOOD-
PECKORE

COLLUSION BETWEEN A
ALEGAITER AND A
WATER-SNAIK .

ODD TO A KROKIS

SOME VERSES TO SNAIX .

A GREAT MAN

AN ELEGY .



W. S. Gilbert

W. M. Thackeray .

William H. Drummond
E. H. Palmer. . . .
J. J. Roche . . . .

( harles E. Carryl

Arthur Macy .
Oliver Herfoid

Guy Wetmore Carryl
Thomas Hood

George Canning .
James Appleton Morgan
O. W. Holmes . . .
Gilbert Abbott a Becket
Anonymous .
Anonymous ....
Anonymous ....



J. W. Morris
Anonymous .
Anonymous
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
[xi]



PAC.K
I I 2
I I 4

116
118
i 20

123

125

127

129
131



'35
136

n?
138
138
139



Henry A. Beers . . . 139



*43

146

147
148

1 5-9



Contents



PAGE

PARSON GRAY . . . . Oliver Goldsmith . . . 150
AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH

OF A MAD DOG . . Oliver Goldsmith . . , 151
THE WONDERFUL OLD

MAN Anonymous . . . . 153

A CHRONICLE .... Anonymous . , . 155

ON THE OXFORD CARRIER John Milton . -157

NEPHELIDIA . A. C. Swinburne . . 158
MARTIN LUTHER AT

POTSDAM .... Barry Pain . . . . 160
COMPANIONS C. S. Calverley . . 163
THE COCK AND THE BULL C. S. Calverley . . . 165
LOVERS AND A REFLEC-
TION C. S. Calverley . . . 170

AN IMITATION OF WORDS-
WORTH Catharine M. Fanshawe . 173

THE FAMOUS BALLAD OF

THE JUBILEE CUP . . Arthur T. Quiller-Couch 175
A SONG OF IMPOSSIBILI-
TIES W. M. Praed . . . 183

TRUST IN WOMEN . . Anonymous . . . . 186

HERE is THE TALE . . Anthony C. Deane . . 188

THE AULD WIFE. . . C. S. Calverley . . . 192

NOT I R. L. Stevenson . . . 194

MINNIE AND WINNIE . Lord Tennyson . . . 194
THE MAYOR OF SCUTTLE-
TON Mary Mapes Dodge . . 195

THE PURPLE Cow . . Gelett Burgess . , . 196

THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE . Gelett Burgess . . . 196

THE LAZY ROOF . . . Gelett Burgess . . . 197

FEET Gelett Burgess . . . 197

[xii]



Contents



THE HEN Oliver Herford . . . 197

THE Cow Oliver Herford . . . 198

THE CHIMPANZEE . . . Oliver Herford . . . 199

THE HIPPOPOTAMUS . . Oliver Hcrford . . . 199

THE PLATYPUS . . . Oliver Hcrford . . . 199

SOME GEESE .... Oliver Herford . . . 200

THE FLAMINGO . . . Lewis Gaylord Clark . 201

KINDNESS TO ANIMALS . J. Ashby-Sterry . . . 203

SAGE COUNSEL . . . A. T. Quiller-Couch . 204

OF BAITING THE LION . Owen Seaman . . . 205

THE FROG Hilaire Belloc . . . 207

THE YAK Hilaire Belloc . . . 207

THE PYTHON .... Hilaire Belloc . . . 208

THE BISON Hilaire Belloc . . . 209

THE PANTHER . . . Anonymous .... 209

THE MONKEY'S GLUE . Goldwin Goldsmith . . 210

THERE WAS A FROG . . Christ Church MS. . . 211

THEBLOATEDBIGGABOON H. Cholmondeley-Pennell 211

WILD FLOWERS . . . Peter Newell . . . . 212

TIMID HORTENSE . . . Peter Newell .... 212

HER POLKA DOTS . . . Peter Newell . . . . 212

HER DAIRY .... Peter Newell . . . . 213

TURVEY TOP .... Anonymous . . . . 213
WHAT THE PRINCE OF I

DREAMT H. Cholmondeley-Pennell 215

THE DINKEY-BIRD . . Eugene Field . . . . 218

THE MAN IN THE MOON James Whitcomb Riley . 220
THE STORY OF THE WILD

HUNTSMAN .... Dr. Heinrich Hoffman . 222
THE STORY OF PYRAMID

THOTHMES .... Anonymous .... 224



Contents



THE STORY OF CRUEL

PSAMTEK ....

THE CUMBERBUNCE .
THE AHKOND OF SWAT .
A THRENODY ....
DIRGE OF THE MOOLLA

OF KOTAL ....
RUSSIAN AND TURK .
LINES TO Miss FLORENCE

HUNTINGDON
COBBE'S PROPHECIES .
AN UNSUSPECTED FACT .
THE SORROWS OF WER-

THER

NONSENSE VERSES .
THE NOBLE TUCK-MAN .
THE PESSIMIST
THE MODERN HIAWATHA
ON THE ROAD ....
UNCLE SIMON AND UNCLE

JIM

POOR DEAR GRANDPAPA
THE SEA-SERPENT
MELANCHOLIA ....
THE MONKEY'S WEDDING
MR. FINNEY'S TURNIP .

THE SUN

THE AUTUMN LEAVES .
IN THE NIGHT . . . > .
POOR BROTHER
THE BOY



Anonymous .
Paul West . . . .

Edward Lear ....
George Thomas Lanigan

George Thomas Lanigan
Anonymous ....

Anonymous ....

1614

Edward Cannon .

W. M. Thackeray . .
Charles Lamb ....
Jean Ingelow ....

Ben King

Anonymous ....
Tudor Jenks ....

Artemus Ward
D'Arcy W. Thompson .

Planche

Anonymous ....
Anonymous ....
Anonymous ....

J. Davis

Anonymous

Anonymous ....
Anonymous ....
Eugene Field
xiv ]



PAGE

225
226
230
233

2 35
238

2 39
241

242

242

243
244

2 45

246

247

247
247
248
248
248
250
251
251
251
251
252



Content



Tm Si A

I'm RI WAS A I. ni I.I:(MRL
KIN MI Siivu ....
MARY JANE ....
TENDER-HEARTEDNESS
IMPETUOUS SAMUEL .
MISFORTUNES NEVER

COME SINGLY .
AUNT ELIZA ....

SUSAN

H ANY AND MARY .
THK SUNBEAM ....
LITTLE WILLIE
MARY AMES ....
MUDDLED METAPHORS .
VILLON'S STRAIGHT TIP
TO ALL CROSS COVES .
ODE TO THE HUMAN

HEART

LIMERICKS



Anonymous

H. \V. Longfellow

Newton Mackintosh .

Anonymous

Col. D. Streamer .

Col. D. Streamer .

Col. D. Streamer .
Col. D. Streamer.
Anonymous .
Anonymous .
Anonymous
Anonymous ' .
Anonymous .
Tom Hood, Jr.

W. E. Henley . .

Laman Blanchard
Edward Lear .
Anonymous
Cosmo Monkhouse
Walter Parke . .
George du Maurier
Robert J. Burdette
Gelett Burgess
Bruce Porter .
Newton Mackintosh
Anonymous
Anonymous .
Anonymous



i r

253
253
253

253
S4



254

254

2 55



256
256

257

258
260
262
263
264
265
266
266

267
267
267
268
268



[XV]



INTRODUCTION

ON a topographical map of Literature Non-
sense would be represented by a small and
sparsely settled country, neglected by the
average tourist, but affording keen delight to the
few enlightened travellers who sojourn within its
borders. It is a field which has been neglected
by anthologists and essayists ; one of its few seri-
ous recognitions being in a certain " Treatise of
Figurative Language," which says : " Nonsense ;
shall we dignify that with a place on our list ?
Assuredly will vote for doing so every one who
hath at all duly noticed what admirable and wise
uses it can be, and often is, put to, though never
before in rhetoric has it been so highly honored.
How deeply does clever or quaint nonsense abide
in the memory, and for how many a decade - - from
earliest youth to age's most venerable years."

And yet Hazlitt's " Studies in Jocular Litera-
ture ' mentions six divisions of the Jest, and
omits Nonsense !

Perhaps, partly because of such neglect, the
work of the best nonsense writers is less widely
known than it might be.

[xix]



A Nonsense Anthology

But a more probable reason is that the majority
of the reading world does not appreciate or enjoy
real nonsense, and this, again, is consequent upon
their inability to discriminate between nonsense of
integral merit and simple chaff.

A jest's prosperity lies in the ear

Of him that hears it. Never in the tongue

Of him that makes it,

and a sense of nonsense is as distinct a part of
our mentality as a sense of humor, being by no
means identical therewith.

It is a fad at present for a man to relate a non-
sensical story, and then, if his hearer does not
laugh, say gravely : " You have no sense of humor.
That is a test story, and only a true humorist
laughs at it." Now, the hearer may have an ex-
quisite sense of humor, but he may be lacking in
a sense of nonsense, and so the story gives him
no pleasure. De Quincey said, " None but a man
of extraordinary talent can write first-rate non-
sense." Only a short study of the subject is required
to convince us that De Quincey was right ; and
he might have added, none but a man of extraor-
dinary taste can appreciate first-rate nonsense. As
an instance of this, we may remember that Edward
Lear, " the parent of modern nonsense-writers,"
was a talented author and artist, and a prime favor-
ite of such men as Tennyson and the Earls of

[xx]



Introduction



Derby i and John Ruskin placed Lear's name at
the head of his list of the best hundred authors.

" Don't tell me," said William Pitt, " of a man's
being able to talk sense ; every one can talk sense.
Can he talk nonsense ? '

The sense of nonsense enables us not only to
discern pure nonsense, but to consider intelligently
nonsense of various degrees of purity. Absence
of sense is not necessarily nonsense, any more than
absence of justice is injustice.

Etymologically speaking, nonsense may be either
words without meaning, or words conveying absurd
or ridiculous ideas. It is the second definition
which expresses the great mass of nonsense litera-
ture, but there is a small proportion of written
nonsense which comes under the head of language
without meaning.

Again, there are verses composed entirely of
meaningless words, which are not nonsense litera-
ture, because they are written with some other
intent.

The nursery rhyme, of which there are almost
as many versions as there are nurseries,

Eena, meena, mona, mi,
Bassalona, bona, stri,
Hare, ware, frown, whack,
Halico balico, we, wi, wo, wack,

is not strictly a nonsense verse, because it was in-

xxi ]



A Nonsense Anthology

vented and used for " counting out," and the
arbitrary words simply take the place of the num-
bers i, 2, 3, etc.

Also, the nonsense verses with which students
of Latin composition are sometimes taught to
begin their efforts, where words are used with no
relative meaning, simply to familiarize the pupil
with the mechanical values of quantity and metre,
are not nonsense. It is only nonsense for non-
sense' sake that is now under our consideration.

Doubtless the best and best-known example of
versified words without meaning is u Jabberwocky."
Although (notwithstanding Lewis Carroll's expla-
nations) the coined words are absolutely without
meaning, the rhythm is perfect and the poetic
quality decidedly apparent, and the poem appeals
to the nonsense lover as a work of pure genius.
Bayard Taylor is said to have recited "Jabber-
wocky " aloud for his own delectation until he was
forced to stop by uncontrollable laughter. To us
who know our Alice it would seem unnecessary to
quote this poem, but it is a fact that among the
general reading community the appreciators of
Lewis Carroll are surprisingly few. An editor of
a leading literary review, when asked recently if
he had read " Alice in Wonderland," replied,
" No, but I mean to. It is by the author of ' As
in a Looking-Glass,' is it not ? '

[ xxii ]



Introduction



But of tar greater interest and merit than non-
sense of words, is nonsense of ideas. Here, again,
we distinguish between nonsense and no sense.
Ideas conveying no sense are often intensely funny,
and this type is seen in some of the best of our
nonsense literature.

A perfect specimen is the bit of evidence read
by the White Rabbit at the Trial of the Knave of
Hearts. 1 One charm of these verses is the serious
air of legal directness which pervades their am-
biguity, and another is the precision with which the
metrical accent coincides exactly with the natural
emphasis. They are marked, too, by the liquid
euphony that always distinguishes Lewis Carroll's
poetry.

A different type is found in verses that refer to
objects in terms the opposite of true, thereby sug-
gesting ludicrous incongruity, and there is also the
nonsense verse that uses word effects which have
been confiscated by the poets and tacitly given
over to them.

A refrain of nonsense words is a favorite diver-
sion of many otherwise serious poets.

With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,

is one of Shakespeare's many musical nonsense
refrains.

1 " She's all my Fancy painted him," page 20.
[ xxiii J



A Nonsense Anthology

Burns gives us :

Ken ye aught o' Captain Grose ?

Igo and ago,
If he 's 'mang his freens or foes ?

Iram, coram, dago.
Is he slain by Highlan' bodies ?

Igo and ago j
And eaten like a weather haggis ?

Iram, coram, dago.

Another very old refrain runs thus :

Rorum, corum, sunt di-vorum,

Harum, scarum, divo;

Tag-rag, merry-derry, periwig and hat-band,
Hie, hoc, horum, genitivo.

An old ballad written before the Reformation
has for a refrain :

Sing go trix,
Trim go trix,
Under the greenwood tree.

While a celebrated political ballad is known by its
nonsense chorus,

Lilliburlero bullin a-la.

Mother Goose rhymes abound in these non-
sense refrains, and they are often fine examples of
onomatopoeia.

By far the most meritorious and most interesting
kind of nonsense is that which embodies an absurd

xx ' lv



Introduction



or ridiculous idea, and treats it with elaborate seri-
ousness. The greatest masters of this art are un-
doubtedly Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. These
Englishmen were men of genius, deep thinkers,
and hard workers.

Lear was an artist draughtsman, his subjects
being mainly ornithological and zoological. Lewis
Carroll (Charles L. Dodgson) was an expert in
mathematics and a lecturer on that science in
Christ Church, Oxford.

Both these men numbered among their friends
many of the greatest Englishmen of the day.

Tennyson was a warm friend and admirer of each,

j

as was also John Ruskin.

Lear's first nonsense verses, published in 1846,
are written in the form of the well-known stanza
beginning :

There was an old man of Tobago.

This type of stanza, known as the " Limerick,"
is said by a gentleman who speaks with authority to
have flourished in the reign of William IV. This
is one of several he remembers as current at his
public school in 1834:

There was a young man at St. Kitts
Who was very much troubled with fits ;

The eclipse of the moon

Threw him into a swoon,
When he tumbled and broke into bits.
[ xxv ]



A Nonsense Anthology
Lear distinctly asserts that this form of verse was

j

not invented by him, but was suggested by a friend
as a useful model for amusing rhymes. It proved
so in his case, for he published no less than two
hundred and twelve of these " Limericks."

In regard to his verses, Lear asserted that " non-
sense, pure and absolute," was his aim through-
out ; and remarked, further, that to have been the
means of administering innocent mirth to thou-
sands was surely a just excuse for satisfaction.
He pursued his aim with scrupulous consistency,
and his absurd conceits are fantastic and ridiculous,
but never cheaply or vulgarly funny.

Twenty-five years after his first book came out,
Lear published other books of nonsense verse and
prose, with pictures which are irresistibly mirth-
provoking. Lear's nonsense songs, while retain-
ing all the ludicrous merriment of his Limericks,
have an added quality of poetic harmony. They
are distinctly singable, and many of them have
been set to music by talented composers. Perhaps
the best-known songs are "The Owl and the
Pussy-Cat " and " The Daddy-Long-Legs and the
Fly."

Lear himself composed airs for u The Pelican
Chorus " and " The Yonghy-Bonghy Bo," which
were arranged for the piano by Professor Pome, of
San Remo, Italy.

[ xxvi ]



. nir oauction



Although like Lear's in some respects, Lewis
Carroll's nonsense is perhaps of a more refined
type. There is less of the grotesque and more
poetic imagery. But though Carroll was more of
a poet than Lear, both had the true sense of non-
sense. Both assumed the most absurd conditions,
and proceeded to detail their consequences with
a simple seriousness that convulses appreciative
readers, and we find ourselves uncertain whether
it is the manner or the matter that is more
amusing.

Lewis Carroll was a man of intellect and edu-
cation ; his funniest sayings are often based
on profound knowledge or deep thought. Like
Lear, he never spoiled his quaint fancies by
over-exaggerating their quatntness or their fanci-
fulness, and his ridiculous plots are as carefully
conceived, constructed, and elaborated as though
they embodied the soundest facts. No funny
detail is ever allowed to become too funny ; and it
is in this judicious economy of extravagance that
his genius is shown. As he remarks in one of his
own poems :

Then, fourthly, there are epithets

That suit with any word
As well as Harvey's Reading Sauce

With fish, or flesh, or bird.



[ xxvii



A Nonsense Anthology

Such epithets, like pepper,

Give zest to what you write 5
And, if you strew them sparely,

They whet the appetite ;
But if you lay them on too thick,

You spoil the matter quite !

Both Lear and Carroll suffered from the undis-
cerning critics who persisted in seeing in their
nonsense a hidden meaning, a cynical, political, or
other intent, veiled under the apparent foolery.
Lear takes occasion to deny this in the preface
to one of his books, and asserts not only that his
rhymes and pictures have no symbolical meaning,
but that he "took more care than might be sup-
posed to make the subjects incapable of such
misinterpretation."

Likewise, " Jabberwocky " was declared by one
critic to be a translation from the German, and
by others its originality was doubted. The truth
is, that it was written by Lewis Carroll at an even-
ing party; it was quite impromptu, and no ulterior
meaning was intended. " The Hunting of the
Snark " was also regarded by some as an allegory,
or, perhaps, a burlesque on a celebrated case, in
which the Snark was used as a personification of
popularity, but Lewis Carroll protested that the
poem had no meaning at all.

A favorite trick of the Nonsensists is the coining

[ xxviii ]



Introduction



of words to suit their needs, and Lear and Carroll
are especially happy in their inventions of this kind.

Lear gives us such gems as scroobious, meloobi-
ous, ombliferous, borascible, slobaciously, himmel-
tanious, flumpetty, and mumbian ; while the best
of Lewis Carroll's coined words are those found in
" Jabberwocky."

Another of the great Nonsensists is W. S.
Gilbert. Unlike Lear or Carroll, his work is not
characterized by absurd words or phrases ; he pre-
fers a still wider scope, and invents a ridiculous
plot. The " Bab Ballads," as well as Mr. Gilbert's
comic opera librettos, hinge upon schemes of ludi-
crous impossibility, which are treated as the most
natural proceedings in the world. The best known
of the " Bab Ballads" is no doubt "The Yarn of
the 'Nancy Bell,' ' which was long since set to
music and is still a popular song. In addition
to his talent for nonsense, Mr. Gilbert possesses a
wonderful rhyming facility, and juggles cleverly
with difficult and unusual metres.

In regard to his " Bab Ballads," Mr. Gilbert
gravely says that "they are not, as a rule, founded
on fact," and, remembering their gory and often
cannibalistic tendencies, we are grateful for this
assurance. An instance of Gilbert's appreciation
of other people's nonsense is his parody of Lear's
verse :

[ xxix ]



A Nonsense Anthology

There was an old man in a tree
Who was horribly bored by a bee 5

When they said, " Does it buzz ? "

He replied, tf Yes, it does !
It 's a regular brute of a bee ! "

The parody attributed to Gilbert is called " A
Nonsense Rhyme in Blank Verse " :

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp ;

When they asked, " Does it hurt ? "

He replied, " No, it does n't,
But I thought all the while 'twas a Hornet ! "

Thackeray wrote spirited nonsense, but much of
it had an under-meaning, political or otherwise,
which bars it from the field of sheer nonsense.

The sense of nonsense is no respecter of per-
sons ; even staid old Dr. Johnson possessed it,
though his nonsense verses are marked by credible
fact and irrefutable logic. Witness these two
examples :

As with my hat upon my head

I walked along the Strand,
I there did meet another man

With his hat in his hand.

The tender infant, meek and mild,


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