Nonsense Books
by Edward Lear
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With all the Original Illustrations


PUBLISHERS' NOTICE. The first Book of Nonsense was published in 1846. Three other volumes,— Nonsense Songs, Stories, etc., published in 1871; More Nonsense Pictures, etc., in 1872; and Laughable Lyrics: A Fresh Book of Nonsense, etc., in 1877,—comprise all the "Nonsense Books" written by Mr. Lear.

"Surely the most beneficent and innocent of all books yet produced is the Book of Nonsense, with its corollary carols, inimitable and refreshing, and perfect in rhythm. I really don't know any author to whom I am half so grateful for my idle self as Edward Lear. I shall put him first of my hundred authors."


In the List of the Best Hundred Authors.



The following lines by Mr. Lear were written for a young lady of his acquaintance, who had quoted to him the words of a young lady not of his acquaintance,

"How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!"

"How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!" Who has written such volumes of stuff! Some think him ill-tempered and queer, But a few think him pleasant enough.

His mind is concrete and fastidious, His nose is remarkably big; His visage is more or less hideous, His beard it resembles a wig.

He has ears, and two eyes, and ten fingers, Leastways if you reckon two thumbs; Long ago he was one of the singers, But now he is one of the dumbs.

He sits in a beautiful parlor, With hundreds of books on the wall; He drinks a great deal of Marsala, But never gets tipsy at all.

He has many friends, lay men and clerical, Old Foss is the name of his cat; His body is perfectly spherical, He weareth a runcible hat.

When he walks in waterproof white, The children run after him so! Calling out, "He's come out in his night- Gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!"

He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion, And chocolate shrimps from the mill.

He reads, but he cannot speak, Spanish, He cannot abide ginger beer: Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish, How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!

* * * * *


Edward Lear, the artist, Author of "Journals of a Landscape Painter" in various out-of-the-way countries, and of the delightful "Books of Nonsense," which have amused successive generations of children, died on Sunday, January 29, 1888, at San Remo, Italy, where he had lived for twenty years. Few names could evoke a wider expression of passing regret at their appearance in the obituary column; for until his health began to fail he was known to an immense and almost a cosmopolitan circle of acquaintance, and popular wherever he was known. Fewer still could call up in the minds of intimate friends a deeper and more enduring feeling of sorrow for personal loss, mingled with the pleasantest of memories; for it was impossible to know him thoroughly and not to love him. London, Rome, the Mediterranean countries generally, Ceylon and India, are still all dotted with survivors among his generation who will mourn for him affectionately, although his latter years were spent in comparatively close retirement. He was a man of striking nobility of nature, fearless, independent, energetic, given to forming for himself strong opinions, often hastily, sometimes bitterly; not always strong or sound in judgment, but always seeking after truth in every matter, and following it as he understood it in scorn of consequence; utterly unselfish, devoted to his friends, generous even to extravagance towards any one who had ever been connected with his fortunes or his travels; playful, light-hearted, witty, and humorous, but not without those occasional fits of black depression and nervous irritability to which such temperaments are liable.

Great and varied as the merits of his pictures are, Lear hardly succeeded in achieving any great popularity as a landscape-painter. His work was frequently done on private commission, and he rarely sent in pictures for the Academy or other exhibitions. His larger and more highly finished landscapes were unequal in technical perfection,—sometimes harsh or cold in color, or stiff in composition; sometimes full of imagination, at others literal and prosaic,—but always impressive reproductions of interesting or peculiar scenery. In later years he used in conversation to qualify himself as a "topographical artist;" and the definition was true, though not exhaustive. He had an intuitive and a perfectly trained eye for the character and beauty of distant mountain lines, the solemnity of rocky gorges, the majesty of a single mountain rising from a base of plain or sea; and he was equally exact in rendering the true forms of the middle distances and the specialties of foreground detail belonging to the various lands through which he had wandered as a sketcher. Some of his pictures show a mastery which has rarely been equalled over the difficulties of painting an immense plain as seen from a height, reaching straight away from the eye of the spectator until it is lost in a dim horizon. Sir Roderick Murchison used to say that he always understood the geological peculiarities of a country he had only studied in Lear's sketches. The compliment was thoroughly justified; and it is not every landscape-painter to whom it could honestly be paid.

The history of Lear's choice of a career was a curious one. He was the youngest of twenty-one children, and, through a family mischance, was thrown entirely on the limited resources of an elderly sister at a very early age. As a boy he had always dabbled in colors for his own amusement, and had been given to poring over the ordinary boys' books upon natural history. It occurred to him to try to turn his infant talents to account; and he painted upon cardboard a couple of birds in the style which the older among us remember as having been called Oriental tinting, took them to a small shop, and sold them for fourpence. The kindness of friends, to whom he was ever grateful, gave him the opportunity of more serious and more remunerative study, and he became a patient and accurate zooelogical draughtsman. Many of the birds in the earlier volumes of Gould's magnificent folios were drawn for him by Lear. A few years back there were eagles alive in the Zooelogical Gardens in Regent's Park to which Lear could point as old familiar friends that he had drawn laboriously from claw to beak fifty years before. He united with this kind of work the more unpleasant occupation of drawing the curiosities of disease or deformity in hospitals. One day, as he was busily intent on the portrait of a bird in the Zooelogical Gardens, an old gentleman came and looked over his shoulder, entered into conversation, and finally said to him, "You must come and draw my birds at Knowsley." Lear did not know where Knowsley was, or what it meant; but the old gentleman was the thirteenth Earl of Derby. The successive Earls of Derby have been among Lear's kindest and most generous patrons. He went to Knowsley, and the drawings in the "Knowsley Menagerie" (now a rare and highly-prized work among book collectors) are by Lear's hand. At Knowsley he became a permanent favorite; and it was there that he composed in prolific succession his charming and wonderful series of utterly nonsensical rhymes and drawings. Lear had already begun seriously to study landscape. When English winters began to threaten his health, Lord Derby started a subscription which enabled him to go to Rome as a student and artist, and no doubt gave him recommendations among Anglo-Roman society which laid the foundations of a numerous clientele. It was in the Roman summers that Lear first began to exercise the taste for pictorial wandering which grew into a habit and a passion, to fill vivid and copious note-books as he went, and to illustrate them by spirited and accurate drawings; and his first volume of "Illustrated Excursions in Italy," published in 1846, is gratefully dedicated to his Knowsley patron.

Only those who have travelled with him could know what a delightful comrade he was to men whose tastes ran more or less parallel to his own. It was not everybody who could travel with him; for he was so irrepressibly anxious not to lose a moment of the time at his disposal for gathering into his garners the beauty and interest of the lands over which he journeyed, that he was careless of comfort and health. Calabria, Sicily, the Desert of Sinai, Egypt and Nubia, Greece and Albania, Palestine, Syria, Athos, Candia, Montenegro, Zagori (who knows now where Zagori is, or was?), were as thoroughly explored and sketched by him as the more civilized localities of Malta, Corsica, and Corfu. He read insatiably before starting all the recognized guide-books and histories of the country he intended to draw; and his published itineraries are marked by great strength and literary interest quite irrespectively of the illustrations. And he had his reward. It is not any ordinary journalist and sketcher who could have compelled from Tennyson such a tribute as lines "To E.L. on his Travels in Greece":—

"Illyrian woodlands, echoing falls Of water, sheets of summer glass, The long divine Peneian pass, The vast Akrokeraunian walls,

"Tomohrit, Athos, all things fair, With such a pencil, such a pen, You shadow forth to distant men, I read and felt that I was there."

Lear was a man to whom, as to Tennyson's Ulysses,

"All experience is an arch wherethrough Gleams that untravelled world."

After settling at San Remo, and when he was nearly sixty years old, he determined to visit India and Ceylon. He started once and failed, being taken so ill at Suez that he was obliged to return. The next year he succeeded, and brought away some thousands of drawings of the most striking views from all three Presidencies and from the tropical island. His appetite for travel continued to grow with what it fed upon; and although he hated a long sea-voyage, he used seriously to contemplate as possible a visit to relations in New Zealand. It may safely, however, be averred that no considerations would have tempted him to visit the Arctic regions.

A hard-working life, checkered by the odd adventures which happen to the odd and the adventurous and pass over the commonplace; a career brightened by the high appreciation of unimpeachable critics; lightened, till of late, by the pleasant society and good wishes of innumerable friends; saddened by the growing pressure of ill health and solitude; cheered by his constant trust in the love and sympathy of those who knew him best, however far away,—such was the life of Edward Lear.

The London Saturday Review, Feb. 4, 1888.

Among the writers who have striven with varying success during the last thirty or forty years to awaken the merriment of the "rising generation" of the time being, Mr. Edward Lear occupies the first place in seniority, if not in merit. The parent of modern nonsense-writers, he is distinguished from all his followers and imitators by the superior consistency with which he has adhered to his aim,—that of amusing his readers by fantastic absurdities, as void of vulgarity or cynicism as they are incapable of being made to harbor any symbolical meaning. He "never deviates into sense;" but those who appreciate him never feel the need of such deviation. He has a genius for coining absurd names and words, which, even when they are suggested by the exigencies of his metre, have a ludicrous appropriateness to the matter in hand. His verse is, with the exception of a certain number of cockney rhymes, wonderfully flowing and even melodious—or, as he would say, meloobious—while to all these qualifications for his task must finally be added the happy gift of pictorial expression, enabling him to double, nay, often to quadruple, the laughable effect of his text by an inexhaustible profusion of the quaintest designs. Generally speaking, these designs are, as it were, an idealization of the efforts of a clever child; but now and then—as in the case of the nonsense-botany—Mr. Lear reminds us what a genuine and graceful artist he really is. The advantage to a humorist of being able to illustrate his own text has been shown in the case of Thackeray and Mr. W.S. Gilbert, to mention two familiar examples; but in no other instance of such a combination have we discovered such geniality as is to be found in the nonsense-pictures of Mr. Lear. We have spoken above of the melodiousness of Mr. Lear's verses, a quality which renders them excellently suitable for musical setting, and which has not escaped the notice of the author himself. We have also heard effective arrangements, presumably by other composers, of the adventures of the Table and the Chair, and of the cruise of the Owl and the Pussy-cat,—the latter introduced into the "drawing-room entertainment" of one of the followers of John Parry. Indeed, in these days of adaptations, it is to be wondered at that no enterprising librettist has attempted to build a children's comic opera out of the materials supplied in the four books with which we are now concerned. The first of these, originally published in 1846, and brought out in an enlarged form in 1863, is exclusively devoted to nonsense-verses of one type. Mr. Lear is careful to disclaim the credit of having created this type, for he tells us in the preface to his third book that "the lines beginning, 'There was an old man of Tobago,' were suggested to me by a valued friend, as a form of verse leading itself to limitless variety for Rhymes and Pictures." Dismissing the further question of the authorship of "There was an old man of Tobago," we propose to give a few specimens of Mr. Lear's Protean powers as exhibited in the variation of this simple type. Here, to begin with, is a favorite verse, which we are very glad to have an opportunity of giving, as it is often incorrectly quoted, "cocks" being substituted for "owls" in the third line:

"There was an Old Man with a beard, Who said, 'It is just as I feared! Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren, Have all built their nests in my beard!'"

With the kindly fatalism which is the distinctive note of the foregoing stanza, the sentiment of our next extract is in vivid contrast:—

"There was an Old Man in a tree, Who was terribly bored by a bee; When they said, 'Does it buzz?' he replied, 'Yes, it does! It's a regular brute of a Bee.'"

To the foregoing verse an historic interest attaches, if, that is, we are right in supposing it to have inspired Mr. Gilbert with his famous "Nonsense-Rhyme in Blank Verse." We quote from memory:—

"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 doesn't, But I thought all the while 'twas a Hornet!'"

Passing over the lines referring to the "Young Person" of Crete to whom the epithet "ombliferous" is applied, we may be pardoned—on the ground of the geographical proximity of the two countries named—for quoting together two stanzas which in reality are separated by a good many pages:—

"There was a Young Lady of Norway, Who casually sat in a doorway; When the doors queezed her flat, she exclaimed, 'What of that?' This courageous young person of Norway."

"There was a Young Lady of Sweden, Who went by the slow train to Weedon; When they cried, 'Weedon Station!' she made no observation, But thought she should go back to Sweden."

A noticeable feature about this first book, and one which we think is peculiar to it, is the harsh treatment which the eccentricities of the inhabitants of certain towns appear to have met with at the hands of their fellow-residents. No less than three people are "smashed,"—the Old Man of Whitehaven "who danced a quadrille with a Raven;" the Old Person of Buda; and the Old Man with a gong "who bumped at it all the day long," though in the last-named case we admit that there was considerable provocation. Before quitting the first "Nonsense-Book," we would point out that it contains one or two forms that are interesting; for instance, "scroobious," which we take to be a Portmanteau word, and "spickle-speckled," a favorite form of reduplication with Mr. Lear, and of which the best specimen occurs in his last book, "He tinkledy-binkledy-winkled the bell." The second book, published in 1871, shows Mr. Lear in the maturity of sweet desipience, and will perhaps remain the favorite volume of the four to grown-up readers. The nonsense-songs are all good, and "The Story of the Four little Children who went Round the World" is the most exquisite piece of imaginative absurdity that the present writer is acquainted with. But before coming to that, let us quote a few lines from "The Jumblies," who, as all the world knows, went to sea in a sieve:—

"They sailed to the Western Sea, they did, To a land all covered with trees. And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart, And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart, And a hive of silvery Bees. And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-Daws, And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws, And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree, And no end of Stilton Cheese. Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live. Their heads are green, and their hands are blue, And they went to sea in a sieve. And in twenty years they all came back, In twenty years or more, And every one said, 'How tall they've grown! For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone, And the hills of the Chankly Bore.'"

From the pedestrian excursion of the Table and the Chair, we cannot resist making a brief quotation, though in this, as in every case, the inability to quote the drawings also is a sad drawback:—

"So they both went slowly down, And walked about the town, With a cheerful bumpy sound, As they toddled round and round. And everybody cried, As they hastened to their side, 'See, the Table and the Chair Have come out to take the air!'

"But in going down an alley To a castle in a valley, They completely lost their way, And wandered all the day, Till, to see them safely back, They paid a Ducky-Quack, And a Beetle and a Mouse, Who took them to their house.

"Then they whispered to each other, 'O delightful little brother, What a lovely walk we've taken! Let us dine on Beans and Bacon!' So the Ducky and the leetle Browny-Mousy, and the Beetle Dined, and danced upon their heads, Till they toddled to their beds."

"The Story of the Four little Children who went Round the World" follows next, and the account of the manner in which they occupied themselves while on shipboard may be transcribed for the benefit of those unfortunate persons who have not perused the original: "During the day-time Violet chiefly occupied herself in putting salt-water into a churn, while her three brothers churned it violently in the hope it would turn into butter, which it seldom if ever did." After journeying for a time, they saw some land at a distance, "and when they came to it they found it was an island made of water quite surrounded by earth. Besides that it was bordered by evanescent isthmuses with a great Gulf-Stream running about all over it, so that it was perfectly beautiful, and contained only a single tree, five hundred and three feet high." In a later passage, we read how "by-and-by the children came to a country where there were no houses, but only an incredibly innumerable number of large bottles without corks, and of a dazzling and sweetly susceptible blue color. Each of these blue bottles contained a bluebottlefly, and all these interesting animals live continually together in the most copious and rural harmony, nor perhaps in many parts of the world is such perfect and abject happiness to be found." Our last quotation from this inimitable recital shall be from the description of their adventure on a great plain where they espied an object which "on a nearer approach and on an accurately cutaneous inspection, seemed to be somebody in a large white wig sitting on an arm-chair made of sponge-cake and oyster-shells." This turned out to be the "Co-operative Cauliflower," who, "while the whole party from the boat was gazing at him with mingled affection and disgust ... suddenly arose, and in a somewhat plumdomphious manner hurried off towards the setting sun, his steps supported by two superincumbent confidential cucumbers ... till he finally disappeared on the brink of the western sky in a crystal cloud of sudorific sand. So remarkable a sight of course impressed the four children very deeply; and they returned immediately to their boat with a strong sense of undeveloped asthma and a great appetite."

In his third book, Mr. Lear takes occasion in an entertaining preface to repudiate the charge of harboring any ulterior motive beyond that of "Nonsense pure and absolute" in any of his verses or pictures, and tells a delightful anecdote illustrative of the "persistently absurd report" that the Earl of Derby was the author of the first book of "Nonsense." In this volume he reverts once more to the familiar form adopted in his original efforts, and with little falling off. It is to be remarked that the third division is styled "Twenty-Six Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures," although there is no more rhyme than reason in any of the set. Our favorite illustrations are those of the "Scroobious Snake who always wore a Hat on his Head, for fear he should bite anybody," and the "Visibly Vicious Vulture who wrote some Verses to a Veal-cutlet in a Volume bound in Vellum." In the fourth and last of Mr. Lear's books, we meet not only with familiar words, but personages and places,—old friends like the Jumblies, the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo, the Quangle Wangle, the hills of the Chankly Bore, and the great Gromboolian plain, as well as new creations, such as the Dong with a luminous Nose, whose story is a sort of nonsense version of the love of Nausicaa for Ulysses, only that the sexes are inverted. In these verses, graceful fancy is so subtly interwoven with nonsense as almost to beguile us into feeling a real interest in Mr. Lear's absurd creations. So again in the Pelican chorus there are some charming lines:—

"By day we fish, and at eve we stand On long bare islands of yellow sand. And when the sun sinks slowly down, And the great rock-walls grow dark and brown, When the purple river rolls fast and dim, And the ivory Ibis starlike skim, Wing to wing we dance around," etc.

The other nonsense-poems are all good, but we have no space for further quotation, and will take leave of our subject by propounding the following set of examination questions which a friend who is deeply versed in Mr. Lear's books has drawn up for us:—

1. What do you gather from a study of Mr. Lear's works to have been the prevalent characteristics of the inhabitants of Gretna, Prague, Thermopylae, Wick, and Hong Kong?

2. State briefly what historical events are connected with Ischia, Chertsey, Whitehaven, Boulak, and Jellibolee.

3. Comment, with illustrations, upon Mr. Lear's use of the following words: Runcible, propitious, dolomphious, borascible, fizzgiggious, himmeltanious, tumble-dum-down, spongetaneous.

4. Enumerate accurately all the animals who lived on the Quangle Wangle's Hat, and explain how the Quangle Wangle was enabled at once to enlighten his five travelling companions as to the true nature of the Co-operative Cauliflower.

5. What were the names of the five daughters of the Old Person of China, and what was the purpose for which the Old Man of the Dargle purchased six barrels of Gargle?

6. Collect notices of King Xerxes in Mr. Lear's works, and state your theory, if you have any, as to the character and appearance of Nupiter Piffkin.

7. Draw pictures of the Plum-pudding flea, and the Moppsikon Floppsikon Bear, and state by whom waterproof tubs were first used.

8. "There was an old man at a station Who made a promiscuous oration."

What bearing may we assume the foregoing couplet to have upon Mr. Lear's political views? —The London Spectator.

* * * * *




With All the Original Pictures and Verses

There was an Old Derry down Derry, who loved to see little folks merry; So he made them a Book, and with laughter they shook At the fun of that Derry down Derry.

Original Dedication.


(The greater part of which were originally made and composed for their parents.)

Is Dedicated by the Author, EDWARD LEAR.

London, 1862.

* * * * *

There was an Old Man with a nose, Who said, "If you choose to suppose That my nose is too long, you are certainly wrong!" That remarkable Man with a nose.

There was a Young Person of Smyrna, Whose Grandmother threatened to burn her; But she seized on the Cat, and said, "Granny, burn that! You incongruous Old Woman of Smyrna!"

There was an Old Man on a hill, Who seldom, if ever, stood still; He ran up and down in his Grandmother's gown, Which adorned that Old Man on a hill.

There was an Old Person of Chili, Whose conduct was painful and silly; He sate on the stairs, eating apples and pears, That imprudent Old Person of Chili.

There was an Old Man with a gong, Who bumped at it all the day long; But they called out, "Oh, law! you're a horrid old bore!" So they smashed that Old Man with a gong.

There was an Old Man of Kilkenny, Who never had more than a penny; He spent all that money in onions and honey, That wayward Old Man of Kilkenny.

There was an Old Man of Columbia, Who was thirsty, and called out for some beer; But they brought it quite hot, in a small copper pot, Which disgusted that man of Columbia.

There was an Old Man in a tree, Who was horribly bored by a Bee; When they said, "Does it buzz?" he replied, "Yes, it does! It's a regular brute of a Bee."

There was an Old Lady of Chertsey, Who made a remarkable curtsey; She twirled round and round, till she sank underground, Which distressed all the people of Chertsey.

There was a Young Lady whose chin Resembled the point of a pin; So she had it made sharp, and purchased a harp, And played several tunes with her chin.

There was an Old Man with a flute,— A "sarpint" ran into his boot! But he played day and night, till the "sarpint" took flight, And avoided that Man with a flute.

There was a Young Lady of Portugal, Whose ideas were excessively nautical; She climbed up a tree to examine the sea, But declared she would never leave Portugal.

There was an Old Person of Ischia, Whose conduct grew friskier and friskier; He danced hornpipes and jigs, and ate thousands of figs, That lively Old Person of Ischia

There was an Old Man of Vienna, Who lived upon Tincture of Senna; When that did not agree, he took Camomile Tea, That nasty Old Man of Vienna.


There was an Old Man in a boat, Who said, "I'm afloat! I'm afloat!" When they said, "No, you ain't!" he was ready to faint, That unhappy Old Man in a boat.

There was an Old Person of Buda, Whose conduct grew ruder and ruder, Till at last with a hammer they silenced his clamor. By smashing that Person of Buda.

There was an Old Man of Moldavia, Who had the most curious behavior; For while he was able, he slept on a table, That funny Old Man of Moldavia.

There was an Old Person of Hurst, Who drank when he was not athirst; When they said, "You'll grow fatter!" he answered "What matter?" That globular Person of Hurst.

There was an Old Man of Madras, Who rode on a cream-colored Ass; But the length of its ears so promoted his fears, That it killed that Old Man of Madras.

There was an Old Person of Dover, Who rushed through a field of blue clover; But some very large Bees stung his nose and his knees, So he very soon went back to Dover.

There was an Old Person of Leeds, Whose head was infested with beads; She sat on a stool and ate gooseberry-fool, Which agreed with that Person of Leeds.

There was an Old Person of Cadiz, Who was always polite to all ladies; But in handing his daughter, he fell into the water, Which drowned that Old Person of Cadiz.

There was an Old Man of the Isles, Whose face was pervaded with smiles; He sang "High dum diddle," and played on the fiddle, That amiable Man of the Isles.

There was an Old Person of Basing, Whose presence of mind was amazing; He purchased a steed, which he rode at full speed, And escaped from the people of Basing.

There was an Old Man who supposed That the street door was partially closed; But some very large Rats ate his coats and his hats, While that futile Old Gentleman dozed.

There was an Old Person whose habits Induced him to feed upon Rabbits; When he'd eaten eighteen, he turned perfectly green, Upon which he relinquished those habits.

There was an Old Man of the West, Who wore a pale plum-colored vest; When they said, "Does it fit?" he replied, "Not a bit!" That uneasy Old Man of the West.

There was an Old Man of Marseilles, Whose daughters wore bottle-green veils: They caught several Fish, which they put in a dish, And sent to their Pa at Marseilles.

There was an Old Man of the Wrekin, Whose shoes made a horrible creaking; But they said, "Tell us whether your shoes are of leather, Or of what, you Old Man of the Wrekin?"

There was a Young Lady whose nose Was so long that it reached to her toes; So she hired an Old Lady, whose conduct was steady, To carry that wonderful nose.

There was a Young Lady of Norway, Who casually sat in a doorway; When the door squeezed her flat, she exclaimed, "What of that?" This courageous Young Lady of Norway.

There was an Old Man of Apulia, Whose conduct was very peculiar; He fed twenty sons upon nothing but buns, That whimsical Man of Apulia.

There was an Old Man of Quebec,— A beetle ran over his neck; But he cried, "With a needle I'll slay you, O beadle!" That angry Old Man of Quebec.

There was a Young Lady of Bute, Who played on a silver-gilt flute; She played several jigs to her Uncle's white Pigs: That amusing Young Lady of Bute.

There was an Old Person of Philoe, Whose conduct was scroobious and wily; He rushed up a Palm when the weather was calm, And observed all the ruins of Philoe.

There was an Old Man with a poker, Who painted his face with red ochre. When they said, "You 're a Guy!" he made no reply, But knocked them all down with his poker.

There was an Old Person of Prague, Who was suddenly seized with the plague; But they gave him some butter, which caused him to mutter, And cured that Old Person of Prague.

There was an Old Man of Peru, Who watched his wife making a stew; But once, by mistake, in a stove she did bake That unfortunate Man of Peru.

There was an Old Man of the North, Who fell into a basin of broth; But a laudable cook fished him out with a hook, Which saved that Old Man of the North.

There was an Old Person of Troy, Whose drink was warm brandy and soy, Which he took with a spoon, by the light of the moon, In sight of the city of Troy.

There was an Old Person of Mold, Who shrank from sensations of cold; So he purchased some muffs, some furs, and some fluffs, And wrapped himself well from the cold.

There was an Old Person of Tring, Who embellished his nose with a ring; He gazed at the moon every evening in June, That ecstatic Old Person of Tring.

There was an Old Man of Nepaul, From his horse had a terrible fall; But, though split quite in two, with some very strong glue They mended that man of Nepaul.

There was an Old Man of the Nile, Who sharpened his nails with a file, Till he cut off his thumbs, and said calmly, "This comes Of sharpening one's nails with a file!"

There was an Old Man of th' Abruzzi, So blind that he couldn't his foot see; When they said, "That's your toe," he replied, "Is it so?" That doubtful Old Man of th' Abruzzi.

There was an Old Man of Calcutta, Who perpetually ate bread and butter; Till a great bit of muffin, on which he was stuffing, Choked that horrid Old Man of Calcutta.

There was an Old Person of Rhodes, Who strongly objected to toads; He paid several cousins to catch them by dozens, That futile Old Person of Rhodes.

There was an Old Man of the South, Who had an immoderate mouth; But in swallowing a dish that was quite full of Fish, He was choked, that Old Man of the South.

There was an Old Man of Melrose, Who walked on the tips of his toes; But they said, "It ain't pleasant to see you at present, You stupid Old Man of Melrose."

There was an Old Man of the Dee, Who was sadly annoyed by a Flea; When he said, "I will scratch it!" they gave him a hatchet, Which grieved that Old Man of the Dee.

There was a Young Lady of Lucca, Whose lovers completely forsook her; She ran up a tree, and said "Fiddle-de-dee!" Which embarrassed the people of Lucca.

There was an Old Man of Coblenz, The length of whose legs was immense; He went with one prance from Turkey to France, That surprising Old Man of Coblenz.

There was an Old Man of Bohemia, Whose daughter was christened Euphemia; But one day, to his grief, she married a thief, Which grieved that Old Man of Bohemia.

There was an Old Man of Corfu, Who never knew what he should do; So he rushed up and down, till the sun made him brown, That bewildered Old Man of Corfu.

There was an Old Man of Vesuvius, Who studied the works of Vitruvius; When the flames burnt his book, to drinking he took, That morbid Old Man of Vesuvius.

There was an Old Man of Dundee, Who frequented the top of a tree; When disturbed by the Crows, he abruptly arose, And exclaimed, "I'll return to Dundee!"

There was an Old Lady whose folly Induced her to sit in a holly; Whereon, by a thorn her dress being torn, She quickly became melancholy.

There was an Old Man on some rocks, Who shut his Wife up in a box: When she said, "Let me out," he exclaimed, "Without doubt You will pass all your life in that box."

There was an Old Person of Rheims, Who was troubled with horrible dreams; So to keep him awake they fed him with cake, Which amused that Old Person of Rheims.

There was an Old Man of Leghorn, The smallest that ever was born; But quickly snapt up he was once by a Puppy, Who devoured that Old Man of Leghorn.

There was an Old Man in a pew, Whose waistcoat was spotted with blue; But he tore it in pieces, to give to his Nieces, That cheerful Old Man in a pew.

There was an Old Man of Jamaica, Who suddenly married a Quaker; But she cried out, "Oh, lack! I have married a black!" Which distressed that Old Man of Jamaica.

There was an Old Man who said, "How Shall I flee from this horrible Cow? I will sit on this stile, and continue to smile, Which may soften the heart of that Cow."

There was a Young Lady of Troy, Whom several large flies did annoy; Some she killed with a thump, some she drowned at the pump, And some she took with her to Troy.

There was a Young Lady of Hull, Who was chased by a virulent Bull; But she seized on a spade, and called out, "Who's afraid?" Which distracted that virulent Bull.

There was an Old Person of Dutton, Whose head was as small as a button; So to make it look big he purchased a wig, And rapidly rushed about Dutton.

There was an Old Man who said, "Hush! I perceive a young bird in this bush!" When they said, "Is it small?" he replied, "Not at all; It is four times as big as the bush!"

There was a Young Lady of Russia, Who screamed so that no one could hush her; Her screams were extreme,—no one heard such a scream As was screamed by that Lady of Russia.

There was a Young Lady of Tyre, Who swept the loud chords of a lyre; At the sound of each sweep she enraptured the deep, And enchanted the city of Tyre.

There was an Old Person of Bangor, Whose face was distorted with anger; He tore off his boots, and subsisted on roots, That borascible Person of Bangor.

There was an Old Man of the East, Who gave all his children a feast; But they all ate so much, and their conduct was such, That it killed that Old Man of the East.

There was an Old Man of the Coast, Who placidly sat on a post; But when it was cold he relinquished his hold, And called for some hot buttered toast.

There was an Old Man of Kamschatka, Who possessed a remarkably fat Cur; His gait and his waddle were held as a model To all the fat dogs in Kamschatka.

There was an Old Person of Gretna, Who rushed down the crater of Etna; When they said, "Is it hot?" he replied, "No, it's not!" That mendacious Old Person of Gretna.

There was an Old Man with a beard, Who sat on a Horse when he reared; But they said, "Never mind! you will fall off behind, You propitious Old Man with a beard!"

There was an Old Man of Berlin, Whose form was uncommonly thin; Till he once, by mistake, was mixed up in a cake, So they baked that Old Man of Berlin.

There was an Old Man of the West, Who never could get any rest; So they set him to spin on his nose and his chin, Which cured that Old Man of the West.

There was an Old Person of Cheadle Was put in the stocks by the Beadle For stealing some pigs, some coats, and some wigs, That horrible person of Cheadle.

There was an Old Person of Anerley, Whose conduct was strange and unmannerly; He rushed down the Strand with a Pig in each hand, But returned in the evening to Anerley.

There was a Young Lady of Wales, Who caught a large Fish without scales; When she lifted her hook, she exclaimed, "Only look!" That ecstatic Young Lady of Wales.

There was a Young Lady of Welling, Whose praise all the world was a-telling; She played on the harp, and caught several Carp, That accomplished Young Lady of Welling.

There was an Old Person of Tartary, Who divided his jugular artery; But he screeched to his Wife, and she said, "Oh, my life! Your death will be felt by all Tartary!"

There was an Old Man of Whitehaven, Who danced a quadrille with a Raven; But they said, "It's absurd to encourage this bird!" So they smashed that Old Man of Whitehaven.

There was a Young Lady of Sweden, Who went by the slow train to Weedon; When they cried, "Weedon Station!" she made no observation, But thought she should go back to Sweden.

There was an Old Person of Chester, Whom several small children did pester; They threw some large stones, which broke most of his bones, And displeased that Old Person of Chester.

There was an Old Man of the Cape, Who possessed a large Barbary Ape; Till the Ape, one dark night, set the house all alight, Which burned that Old Man of the Cape.

There was an Old Person of Burton, Whose answers were rather uncertain; When they said, "How d' ye do?" he replied, "Who are you?" That distressing Old Person of Burton.

There was an Old Person of Ems Who casually fell in the Thames; And when he was found, they said he was drowned, That unlucky Old Person of Ems.

There was a Young Girl of Majorca, Whose Aunt was a very fast walker; She walked seventy miles, and leaped fifteen stiles, Which astonished that Girl of Majorca.

There was a Young Lady of Poole, Whose soup was excessively cool; So she put it to boil by the aid of some oil, That ingenious Young Lady of Poole.

There was an Old Lady of Prague, Whose language was horribly vague; When they said, "Are these caps?" she answered, "Perhaps!" That oracular Lady of Prague.

There was a Young Lady of Parma, Whose conduct grew calmer and calmer: When they said, "Are you dumb?" she merely said, "Hum!" That provoking Young Lady of Parma.

There was an Old Person of Sparta, Who had twenty-five sons and one "darter;" He fed them on Snails, and weighed them in scales, That wonderful Person of Sparta.

There was an Old Man on whose nose Most birds of the air could repose; But they all flew away at the closing of day, Which relieved that Old Man and his nose.

There was a Young Lady of Turkey, Who wept when the weather was murky; When the day turned out fine, she ceased to repine, That capricious Young Lady of Turkey.

There was an Old Man of Aosta Who possessed a large Cow, but he lost her; But they said, "Don't you see she has run up a tree, You invidious Old Man of Aosta?"

There was a Young Person of Crete, Whose toilette was far from complete; She dressed in a sack spickle-speckled with black, That ombliferous Person of Crete.

There was a Young Lady of Clare, Who was madly pursued by a Bear; When she found she was tired, she abruptly expired, That unfortunate Lady of Clare.

There was a Young Lady of Dorking, Who bought a large bonnet for walking; But its color and size so bedazzled her eyes, That she very soon went back to Dorking.

There was an Old Man of Cape Horn, Who wished he had never been born; So he sat on a Chair till he died of despair, That dolorous Man of Cape Horn.

There was an old Person of Cromer, Who stood on one leg to read Homer; When he found he grew stiff, he jumped over the cliff, Which concluded that Person of Cromer.

There was an Old Man of the Hague, Whose ideas were excessively vague; He built a balloon to examine the moon, That deluded Old Man of the Hague.

There was an Old Person of Spain, Who hated all trouble and pain; So he sate on a chair with his feet in the air, That umbrageous Old Person of Spain.

There was an Old Man who said, "Well! Will nobody answer this bell? I have pulled day and night, till my hair has grown white, But nobody answers this bell!"

There was an Old Man with an Owl, Who continued to bother and howl; He sat on a rail, and imbibed bitter ale, Which refreshed that Old Man and his Owl.

There was an Old Man in a casement, Who held up his hands in amazement; When they said, "Sir, you'll fall!" he replied, "Not at all!" That incipient Old Man in a casement.

There was an Old Person of Ewell, Who chiefly subsisted on gruel; But to make it more nice, he inserted some Mice, Which refreshed that Old Person of Ewell.

There was an Old Man of Peru. Who never knew what he should do; So he tore off his hair, and behaved like a bear, That intrinsic Old Man of Peru.

There was an Old Man with a beard, Who said, "It is just as I feared!— Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren, Have all built their nests in my beard."

There was a Young Lady whose eyes Were unique as to color and size; When she opened them wide, people all turned aside, And started away in surprise.

There was a Young Lady of Ryde, Whose shoe-strings were seldom untied; She purchased some clogs, and some small spotty Dogs, And frequently walked about Ryde.

There was a Young Lady whose bonnet Came untied when the birds sate upon it; But she said, "I don't care! all the birds in the air Are welcome to sit on my bonnet!"

* * * * *


Stories, Botany, and Alphabets



With One Hundred and Fifty Illustrations






NONSENSE ALPHABET, No. 1 " " No. 2 " " No. 3




The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey, and plenty of money Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, "O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are! What a beautiful Pussy you are!"


Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl, How charmingly sweet you sing! Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried: But what shall we do for a ring?" They sailed away, for a year and a day, To the land where the bong-tree grows; And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood, With a ring at the end of his nose, His nose, His nose, With a ring at the end of his nose.


"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will." So they took it away, and were married next day By the Turkey who lives on the hill. They dined on mince and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon, The moon, The moon, They danced by the light of the moon.



Said the Duck to the Kangaroo, "Good gracious! how you hop Over the fields, and the water too, As if you never would stop! My life is a bore in this nasty pond; And I long to go out in the world beyond: I wish I could hop like you," Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.


"Please give me a ride on your back," Said the Duck to the Kangaroo: "I would sit quite still, and say nothing but 'Quack' The whole of the long day through; And we 'd go the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee, Over the land, and over the sea: Please take me a ride! oh, do!" Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.


Said the Kangaroo to the Duck, "This requires some little reflection. Perhaps, on the whole, it might bring me luck; And there seems but one objection; Which is, if you'll let me speak so bold, Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold, And would probably give me the roo- Matiz," said the Kangaroo.


Said the Duck, "As I sate on the rocks, I have thought over that completely; And I bought four pairs of worsted socks, Which fit my web-feet neatly; And, to keep out the cold, I've bought a cloak; And every day a cigar I'll smoke; All to follow my own dear true Love of a Kangaroo."


Said the Kangaroo, "I'm ready, All in the moonlight pale; But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady, And quite at the end of my tail." So away they went with a hop and a bound; And they hopped the whole world three times round. And who so happy, oh! who, As the Duck and the Kangaroo?



Once Mr. Daddy Long-legs, Dressed in brown and gray, Walked about upon the sands Upon a summer's day: And there among the pebbles, When the wind was rather cold, He met with Mr. Floppy Fly, All dressed in blue and gold; And, as it was too soon to dine, They drank some periwinkle-wine, And played an hour or two, or more, At battlecock and shuttledore.


Said Mr. Daddy Long-legs To Mr. Floppy Fly, "Why do you never come to court? I wish you 'd tell me why. All gold and shine, in dress so fine, You'd quite delight the court. Why do you never go at all? I really think you ought. And, if you went, you'd see such sights! Such rugs and jugs and candle-lights! And, more than all, the king and queen,— One in red, and one in green."


"O Mr. Daddy Long-legs!" Said Mr. Floppy Fly, "It's true I never go to court; And I will tell you why. If I had six long legs like yours, At once I'd go to court; But, oh! I can't, because my legs Are so extremely short. And I'm afraid the king and queen (One in red, and one in green) Would say aloud, 'You are not fit, You Fly, to come to court a bit!'"


"Oh, Mr. Daddy Long-legs!" Said Mr. Floppy Fly, "I wish you 'd sing one little song, One mumbian melody. You used to sing so awful well In former days gone by; But now you never sing at all: I wish you'd tell me why: For, if you would, the silvery sound Would please the shrimps and cockles round, And all the crabs would gladly come To hear you sing, 'Ah, Hum di Hum!'"


Said Mr. Daddy Long-legs, "I can never sing again; And, if you wish, I'll tell you why, Although it gives me pain. For years I cannot hum a bit, Or sing the smallest song; And this the dreadful reason is,— My legs are grown too long! My six long legs, all here and there, Oppress my bosom with despair; And, if I stand or lie or sit, I cannot sing one single bit!"


So Mr. Daddy Long-legs And Mr. Floppy Fly Sat down in silence by the sea, And gazed upon the sky. They said, "This is a dreadful thing! The world has all gone wrong, Since one has legs too short by half, The other much too long. One never more can go to court, Because his legs have grown too short; The other cannot sing a song, Because his legs have grown too long!"


Then Mr. Daddy Long-legs And Mr. Floppy Fly Rushed downward to the foamy sea With one sponge-taneous cry: And there they found a little boat, Whose sails were pink and gray; And off they sailed among the waves, Far and far away: They sailed across the silent main, And reached the great Gromboolian Plain; And there they play forevermore At battlecock and shuttledore.



They went to sea in a sieve, they did; In a sieve they went to sea: In spite of all their friends could say, On a winter's morn, on a stormy day, In a sieve they went to sea. And when the sieve turned round and round, And every one cried, "You'll all be drowned!" They called aloud, "Our sieve ain't big; But we don't care a button, we don't care a fig: In a sieve we'll go to sea!" Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live: Their heads are green, and their hands are blue And they went to sea in a sieve.


They sailed away in a sieve, they did, In a sieve they sailed so fast, With only a beautiful pea-green veil Tied with a ribbon, by way of a sail, To a small tobacco-pipe mast. And every one said who saw them go, "Oh! won't they be soon upset, you know? For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long; And, happen what may, it's extremely wrong In a sieve to sail so fast." Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live: Their heads are green, and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.


The water it soon came in, it did; The water it soon came in: So, to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet In a pinky paper all folded neat; And they fastened it down with a pin. And they passed the night in a crockery-jar; And each of them said, "How wise we are! Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long, Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong, While round in our sieve we spin." Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live: Their heads are green, and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.


And all night long they sailed away; And when the sun went down, They whistled and warbled a moony song To the echoing sound of a coppery gong, In the shade of the mountains brown. "O Timballoo! How happy we are When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar! And all night long, in the moonlight pale, We sail away with a pea-green sail In the shade of the mountains brown." Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live: Their heads are green, and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.


They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,— To a land all covered with trees: And they bought an owl, and a useful cart, And a pound of rice, and a cranberry-tart, And a hive of silvery bees; And they bought a pig, and some green jackdaws, And a lovely monkey with lollipop paws, And forty bottles of ring-bo-ree, And no end of Stilton cheese. Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live: Their heads are green, and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.


And in twenty years they all came back,— In twenty years or more; And every one said, "How tall they've grown! For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone, And the hills of the Chankly Bore." And they drank their health, and gave them a feast Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast; And every one said, "If we only live, We, too, will go to sea in a sieve, To the hills of the Chankly Bore." Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live: Their heads are green, and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.



The Nutcrackers sate by a plate on the table; The Sugar-tongs sate by a plate at his side; And the Nutcrackers said, "Don't you wish we were able Along the blue hills and green meadows to ride? Must we drag on this stupid existence forever, So idle and weary, so full of remorse, While every one else takes his pleasure, and never Seems happy unless he is riding a horse?


"Don't you think we could ride without being instructed, Without any saddle or bridle or spur? Our legs are so long, and so aptly constructed, I'm sure that an accident could not occur. Let us all of a sudden hop down from the table, And hustle downstairs, and each jump on a horse! Shall we try? Shall we go? Do you think we are able?" The Sugar-tongs answered distinctly, "Of course!"


So down the long staircase they hopped in a minute; The Sugar-tongs snapped, and the Crackers said "Crack!" The stable was open; the horses were in it: Each took out a pony, and jumped on his back. The Cat in a fright scrambled out of the doorway; The Mice tumbled out of a bundle of hay; The brown and white Rats, and the black ones from Norway, Screamed out, "They are taking the horses away!"


The whole of the household was filled with amazement: The Cups and the Saucers danced madly about; The Plates and the Dishes looked out of the casement; The Salt-cellar stood on his head with a shout; The Spoons, with a clatter, looked out of the lattice; The Mustard-pot climbed up the gooseberry-pies; The Soup-ladle peeped through a heap of veal-patties, And squeaked with a ladle-like scream of surprise.


The Frying-pan said, "It's an awful delusion!" The Tea-kettle hissed, and grew black in the face; And they all rushed downstairs in the wildest confusion To see the great Nutcracker-Sugar-tong race. And out of the stable, with screamings and laughter (Their ponies were cream-colored, speckled with brown), The Nutcrackers first, and the Sugar-tongs after; Rode all round the yard, and then all round the town.


They rode through the street, and they rode by the station; They galloped away to the beautiful shore; In silence they rode, and "made no observation," Save this: "We will never go back any more!" And still you might hear, till they rode out of hearing, The Sugar-tongs snap, and the Crackers say "Crack!" Till, far in the distance their forms disappearing, They faded away; and they never came back!



Calico pie, The little birds fly Down to the calico-tree: Their wings were blue, And they sang "Tilly-loo!" Till away they flew; And they never came back to me! They never came back, They never came back, They never came back to me!


Calico jam, The little Fish swam Over the Syllabub Sea. He took off his hat To the Sole and the Sprat, And the Willeby-wat: But he never came back to me; He never came back, He never came back, He never came back to me.


Calico ban, The little Mice ran To be ready in time for tea; Flippity flup, They drank it all up, And danced in the cup: But they never came back to me; They never came back, They never came back, They never came back to me.


Calico drum, The Grasshoppers come, The Butterfly, Beetle, and Bee, Over the ground, Around and round, With a hop and a bound; But they never came back, They never came back, They never came back. They never came back to me.



On a little piece of wood Mr. Spikky Sparrow stood: Mrs. Sparrow sate close by, A-making of an insect-pie For her little children five, In the nest and all alive; Singing with a cheerful smile, To amuse them all the while, "Twikky wikky wikky wee, Wikky bikky twikky tee, Spikky bikky bee!"


Mrs. Spikky Sparrow said, "Spikky, darling! in my head Many thoughts of trouble come, Like to flies upon a plum. All last night, among the trees, I heard you cough, I heard you sneeze; And thought I, 'It's come to that Because he does not wear a hat!' Chippy wippy sikky tee, Bikky wikky tikky mee, Spikky chippy wee!


"Not that you are growing old; But the nights are growing cold. No one stays out all night long Without a hat: I'm sure it's wrong!" Mr. Spikky said, "How kind, Dear, you are, to speak your mind! All your life I wish you luck! You are, you are, a lovely duck! Witchy witchy witchy wee, Twitchy witchy witchy bee, Tikky tikky tee!


"I was also sad, and thinking, When one day I saw you winking, And I heard you sniffle-snuffle, And I saw your feathers ruffle: To myself I sadly said, 'She's neuralgia in her head! That dear head has nothing on it! Ought she not to wear a bonnet?' Witchy kitchy kitchy wee, Spikky wikky mikky bee, Chippy wippy chee!


"Let us both fly up to town: There I'll buy you such a gown! Which, completely in the fashion, You shall tie a sky-blue sash on; And a pair of slippers neat To fit your darling little feet, So that you will look and feel Quite galloobious and genteel. Jikky wikky bikky see, Chicky bikky wikky bee, Twicky witchy wee!"


So they both to London went, Alighting on the Monument; Whence they flew down swiftly—pop! Into Moses' wholesale shop: There they bought a hat and bonnet, And a gown with spots upon it, A satin sash of Cloxam blue, And a pair of slippers too. Zikky wikky mikky bee, Witchy witchy mitchy kee, Sikky tikky wee!


Then, when so completely dressed, Back they flew, and reached their nest. Their children cried, "O ma and pa! How truly beautiful you are!" Said they, "We trust that cold or pain We shall never feel again; While, perched on tree or house or steeple, We now shall look like other people. Witchy witchy witchy wee, Twikky mikky bikky bee, Zikky sikky tee!"



The Broom and the Shovel, the Poker and Tongs, They all took a drive in the Park; And they each sang a song, ding-a-dong, ding-a-dong! Before they went back in the dark. Mr. Poker he sate quite upright in the coach; Mr. Tongs made a clatter and clash; Miss Shovel was dressed all in black (with a brooch); Mrs. Broom was in blue (with a sash). Ding-a-dong, ding-a-dong! And they all sang a song.


"O Shovely so lovely!" the Poker he sang, "You have perfectly conquered my heart. Ding-a-dong, ding-a-dong! If you're pleased with my song, I will feed you with cold apple-tart. When you scrape up the coals with a delicate sound, You enrapture my life with delight, Your nose is so shiny, your head is so round, And your shape is so slender and bright! Ding-a-dong, ding-a-dong! Ain't you pleased with my song?"


"Alas! Mrs. Broom," sighed the Tongs in his song, "Oh! is it because I'm so thin, And my legs are so long,—ding-a-dong, ding-a-dong!— That you don't care about me a pin? Ah! fairest of creatures, when sweeping the room, Ah! why don't you heed my complaint? Must you needs be so cruel, you beautiful Broom, Because you are covered with paint? Ding-a-dong, ding-a-dong! You are certainly wrong."


Mrs. Broom and Miss Shovel together they sang, "What nonsense you're singing to-day!" Said the Shovel, "I'll certainly hit you a bang!" Said the Broom, "And I'll sweep you away!" So the coachman drove homeward as fast as he could, Perceiving their anger with pain; But they put on the kettle, and little by little They all became happy again. Ding-a-dong, ding-a-dong! There's an end of my song.



Said the Table to the Chair, "You can hardly be aware How I suffer from the heat And from chilblains on my feet. If we took a little walk, We might have a little talk; Pray let us take the air," Said the Table to the Chair.


Said the Chair unto the Table, "Now, you know we are not able: How foolishly you talk, When you know we cannot walk!" Said the Table with a sigh, "It can do no harm to try. I've as many legs as you: Why can't we walk on two?"


So they both went slowly down, And walked about the town With a cheerful bumpy sound As they toddled round and round; And everybody cried, As they hastened to their side, "See! the Table and the Chair Have come out to take the air!"


But in going down an alley, To a castle in a valley, They completely lost their way, And wandered all the day; Till, to see them safely back, They paid a Ducky-quack, And a Beetle, and a Mouse, Who took them to their house.


Then they whispered to each other, "O delightful little brother, What a lovely walk we've taken! Let us dine on beans and bacon." So the Ducky and the leetle Browny-Mousy and the Beetle Dined, and danced upon their heads Till they toddled to their beds.

* * * * *



Once upon a time, a long while ago, there were four little people whose names were

VIOLET, SLINGSBY, GUY, and LIONEL; and they all thought they should like to see the world. So they bought a large boat to sail quite round the world by sea, and then they were to come back on the other side by land. The boat was painted blue with green spots, and the sail was yellow with red stripes: and, when they set off, they only took a small Cat to steer and look after the boat, besides an elderly Quangle-Wangle, who had to cook the dinner and make the tea; for which purposes they took a large kettle.

For the first ten days they sailed on beautifully, and found plenty to eat, as there were lots of fish; and they had only to take them out of the sea with a long spoon, when the Quangle-Wangle instantly cooked them; and the Pussy-Cat was fed with the bones, with which she expressed herself pleased, on the whole: so that all the party were very happy.

During the daytime, Violet chiefly occupied herself in putting salt water into a churn; while her three brothers churned it violently, in the hope that it would turn into butter, which it seldom if ever did; and in the evening they all retired into the tea-kettle, where they all managed to sleep very comfortably, while Pussy and the Quangle-Wangle managed the boat.

After a time, they saw some land at a distance; and, when they came to it, they found it was an island made of water quite surrounded by earth. Besides that, it was bordered by evanescent isthmuses, with a great gulf-stream running about all over it; so that it was perfectly beautiful, and contained only a single tree, 503 feet high.

When they had landed, they walked about, but found, to their great surprise, that the island was quite full of veal-cutlets and chocolate-drops, and nothing else. So they all climbed up the single high tree to discover, if possible, if there were any people; but having remained on the top of the tree for a week, and not seeing anybody, they naturally concluded that there were no inhabitants; and accordingly, when they came down, they loaded the boat with two thousand veal-cutlets and a million of chocolate-drops; and these afforded them sustenance for more than a month, during which time they pursued their voyage with the utmost delight and apathy.

After this they came to a shore where there were no less than sixty-five great red parrots with blue tails, sitting on a rail all of a row, and all fast asleep. And I am sorry to say that the Pussy-Cat and the Quangle-Wangle crept softly, and bit off the tail-feathers of all the sixty-five parrots; for which Violet reproved them both severely.

Notwithstanding which, she proceeded to insert all the feathers—two hundred and sixty in number—in her bonnet; thereby causing it to have a lovely and glittering appearance, highly prepossessing and efficacious.

The next thing that happened to them was in a narrow part of the sea, which was so entirely full of fishes that the boat could go on no farther: so they remained there about six weeks, till they had eaten nearly all the fishes, which were soles, and all ready-cooked, and covered with shrimp-sauce, so that there was no trouble whatever. And as the few fishes who remained uneaten complained of the cold, as well as of the difficulty they had in getting any sleep on account of the extreme noise made by the arctic bears and the tropical turnspits, which frequented the neighborhood in great numbers, Violet most amiably knitted a small woollen frock for several of the fishes, and Slingsby administered some opium-drops to them; through which kindness they became quite warm, and slept soundly.

Then they came to a country which was wholly covered with immense orange-trees of a vast size, and quite full of fruit. So they all landed, taking with them the tea-kettle, intending to gather some of the oranges, and place them in it. But, while they were busy about this, a most dreadfully high wind rose, and blew out most of the parrot-tail feathers from Violet's bonnet. That, however, was nothing compared with the calamity of the oranges falling down on their heads by millions and millions, which thumped and bumped and bumped and thumped them all so seriously, that they were obliged to run as hard as they could for their lives; besides that the sound of the oranges rattling on the tea-kettle was of the most fearful and amazing nature.

Nevertheless, they got safely to the boat, although considerably vexed and hurt; and the Quangle-Wangle's right foot was so knocked about, that he had to sit with his head in his slipper for at least a week.

This event made them all for a time rather melancholy: and perhaps they might never have become less so, had not Lionel, with a most praiseworthy devotion and perseverance, continued to stand on one leg, and whistle to them in a loud and lively manner; which diverted the whole party so extremely that they gradually recovered their spirits, and agreed that whenever they should reach home, they would subscribe towards a testimonial to Lionel, entirely made of gingerbread and raspberries, as an earnest token of their sincere and grateful infection.

After sailing on calmly for several more days, they came to another country, where they were much pleased and surprised to see a countless multitude of white Mice with red eyes, all sitting in a great circle, slowly eating custard-pudding with the most satisfactory and polite demeanor.

And as the four travellers were rather hungry, being tired of eating nothing but soles and oranges for so long a period, they held a council as to the propriety of asking the Mice for some of their pudding in a humble and affecting manner, by which they could hardly be otherwise than gratified. It was agreed, therefore, that Guy should go and ask the Mice, which he immediately did; and the result was, that they gave a walnut-shell only half full of custard diluted with water. Now, this displeased Guy, who said, "Out of such a lot of pudding as you have got, I must say, you might have spared a somewhat larger quantity." But no sooner had he finished speaking than the Mice turned round at once, and sneezed at him in an appalling and vindictive manner (and it is impossible to imagine a more scroobious and unpleasant sound than that caused by the simultaneous sneezing of many millions of angry Mice); so that Guy rushed back to the boat, having first shied his cap into the middle of the custard-pudding, by which means he completely spoiled the Mice's dinner.

By and by the four children came to a country where there were no houses, but only an incredibly innumerable number of large bottles without corks, and of a dazzling and sweetly susceptible blue color. Each of these blue bottles contained a Blue-Bottle-Fly; and all these interesting animals live continually together in the most copious and rural harmony: nor perhaps in many parts of the world is such perfect and abject happiness to be found. Violet and Slingsby and Guy and Lionel were greatly struck with this singular and instructive settlement; and, having previously asked permission of the Blue-Bottle-Flies (which was most courteously granted), the boat was drawn up to the shore, and they proceeded to make tea in front of the bottles: but as they had no tea-leaves, they merely placed some pebbles in the hot water; and the Quangle-Wangle played some tunes over it on an accordion, by which, of course, tea was made directly, and of the very best quality.

The four children then entered into conversation with the Blue-Bottle-Flies, who discoursed in a placid and genteel manner, though with a slightly buzzing accent, chiefly owing to the fact that they each held a small clothes-brush between their teeth, which naturally occasioned a fizzy, extraneous utterance.

"Why," said Violet, "would you kindly inform us, do you reside in bottles; and, if in bottles at all, why not, rather, in green or purple, or, indeed, in yellow bottles?"

To which questions a very aged Blue-Bottle-Fly answered, "We found the bottles here all ready to live in; that is to say, our great-great-great- great-great-grandfathers did: so we occupied them at once. And, when the winter comes on, we turn the bottles upside down, and consequently rarely feel the cold at all; and you know very well that this could not be the case with bottles of any other color than blue."

"Of course it could not," said Slingsby. "But, if we may take the liberty of inquiring, on what do you chiefly subsist?"

"Mainly on oyster-patties," said the Blue-Bottle-Fly; "and, when these are scarce, on raspberry vinegar and Russian leather boiled down to a jelly."

"How delicious!" said Guy.

To which Lionel added, "Huzz!" And all the Blue-Bottle-Flies said, "Buzz!"

At this time, an elderly Fly said it was the hour for the evening-song to be sung; and, on a signal being given, all the Blue-Bottle-Flies began to buzz at once in a sumptuous and sonorous manner, the melodious and mucilaginous sounds echoing all over the waters, and resounding across the tumultuous tops of the transitory titmice upon the intervening and verdant mountains with a serene and sickly suavity only known to the truly virtuous. The Moon was shining slobaciously from the star-bespangled sky, while her light irrigated the smooth and shiny sides and wings and backs of the Blue-Bottle-Flies with a peculiar and trivial splendor, while all Nature cheerfully responded to the cerulean and conspicuous circumstances.

In many long-after years, the four little travellers looked back to that evening as one of the happiest in all their lives; and it was already past midnight when—the sail of the boat having been set up by the Quangle-Wangle, the tea-kettle and churn placed in their respective positions, and the Pussy-Cat stationed at the helm—the children each took a last and affectionate farewell of the Blue-Bottle-Flies, who walked down in a body to the water's edge to see the travellers embark.

As a token of parting respect and esteem, Violet made a courtesy quite down to the ground, and stuck one of her few remaining parrot-tail feathers into the back hair of the most pleasing of the Blue-Bottle-Flies; while Slingsby, Guy, and Lionel offered them three small boxes, containing, respectively, black pins, dried figs, and Epsom salts; and thus they left that happy shore forever.

Overcome by their feelings, the four little travellers instantly jumped into the tea-kettle, and fell fast asleep. But all along the shore, for many hours, there was distinctly heard a sound of severely-suppressed sobs, and of a vague multitude of living creatures using their pocket-handkerchiefs in a subdued simultaneous snuffle, lingering sadly along the walloping waves as the boat sailed farther and farther away from the Land of the Happy Blue-Bottle-Flies.

Nothing particular occurred for some days after these events, except that, as the travellers were passing a low tract of sand, they perceived an unusual and gratifying spectacle; namely, a large number of Crabs and Crawfish—perhaps six or seven hundred—sitting by the water-side, and endeavoring to disentangle a vast heap of pale pink worsted, which they moistened at intervals with a fluid composed of lavender-water and white-wine negus.

"Can we be of any service to you, O crusty Crabbies?" said the four children.

"Thank you kindly," said the Crabs consecutively. "We are trying to make some worsted mittens, but do not know how."

On which Violet, who was perfectly acquainted with the art of mitten-making, said to the Crabs, "Do your claws unscrew, or are they fixtures?"

"They are all made to unscrew," said the Crabs; and forthwith they deposited a great pile of claws close to the boat, with which Violet uncombed all the pale pink worsted, and then made the loveliest mittens with it you can imagine. These the Crabs, having resumed and screwed on their claws, placed cheerfully upon their wrists, and walked away rapidly on their hind-legs, warbling songs with a silvery voice and in a minor key.

After this, the four little people sailed on again till they came to a vast and wide plain of astonishing dimensions, on which nothing whatever could be discovered at first; but, as the travellers walked onward, there appeared in the extreme and dim distance a single object, which on a nearer approach, and on an accurately cutaneous inspection, seemed to be somebody in a large white wig, sitting on an arm-chair made of sponge-cakes and oyster-shells. "It does not quite look like a human being," said Violet doubtfully; nor could they make out what it really was, till the Quangle-Wangle (who had previously been round the world) exclaimed softly in a loud voice, "It is the co-operative Cauliflower!"

And so, in truth, it was: and they soon found that what they had taken for an immense wig was in reality the top of the Cauliflower; and that he had no feet at all, being able to walk tolerably well with a fluctuating and graceful movement on a single cabbage-stalk,—an accomplishment which naturally saved him the expense of stockings and shoes.

Presently, while the whole party from the boat was gazing at him with mingled affection and disgust, he suddenly arose, and, in a somewhat plumdomphious manner, hurried off towards the setting sun,—his steps supported by two superincumbent confidential Cucumbers, and a large number of Waterwagtails proceeding in advance of him by three and three in a row,—till he finally disappeared on the brink of the western sky in a crystal cloud of sudorific sand.

So remarkable a sight, of course, impressed the four children very deeply; and they returned immediately to their boat with a strong sense of undeveloped asthma and a great appetite.

Shortly after this, the travellers were obliged to sail directly below some high overhanging rocks, from the top of one of which a particularly odious little boy, dressed in rose-colored knickerbockers, and with a pewter plate upon his head, threw an enormous pumpkin at the boat, by which it was instantly upset.

But this upsetting was of no consequence, because all the party knew how to swim very well: and, in fact, they preferred swimming about till after the moon rose; when, the water growing chilly, they sponge-taneously entered the boat. Meanwhile the Quangle-Wangle threw back the pumpkin with immense force, so that it hit the rocks where the malicious little boy in rose-colored knickerbockers was sitting; when, being quite full of lucifer-matches, the pumpkin exploded surreptitiously into a thousand bits; whereon the rocks instantly took fire, and the odious little boy became unpleasantly hotter and hotter and hotter, till his knickerbockers were turned quite green, and his nose was burnt off.

Two or three days after this had happened, they came to another place, where they found nothing at all except some wide and deep pits full of mulberry-jam. This is the property of the tiny, yellow-nosed Apes who abound in these districts, and who store up the mulberry-jam for their food in winter, when they mix it with pellucid pale periwinkle-soup, and serve it out in wedgewood china-bowls, which grow freely all over that part of the country. Only one of the yellow-nosed Apes was on the spot, and he was fast asleep; yet the four travellers and the Quangle-Wangle and Pussy were so terrified by the violence and sanguinary sound of his snoring, that they merely took a small cupful of the jam, and returned to re-embark in their boat without delay.

What was their horror on seeing the boat (including the churn and the tea-kettle) in the mouth of an enormous Seeze Pyder, an aquatic and ferocious creature truly dreadful to behold, and, happily, only met with in those excessive longitudes! In a moment, the beautiful boat was bitten into fifty-five thousand million hundred billion bits; and it instantly became quite clear that Violet, Slingsby, Guy, and Lionel could no longer preliminate their voyage by sea.

The four travellers were therefore obliged to resolve on pursuing their wanderings by land: and, very fortunately, there happened to pass by at that moment an elderly Rhinoceros, on which they seized; and, all four mounting on his back,—the Quangle-Wangle sitting on his horn, and holding on by his ears, and the Pussy-Cat swinging at the end of his tail,—they set off, having only four small beans and three pounds of mashed potatoes to last through their whole journey.

They were, however, able to catch numbers of the chickens and turkeys and other birds who incessantly alighted on the head of the Rhinoceros for the purpose of gathering the seeds of the rhododendron-plants which grew there; and these creatures they cooked in the most translucent and satisfactory manner by means of a fire lighted on the end of the Rhinoceros's back. A crowd of Kangaroos and gigantic Cranes accompanied them, from feelings of curiosity and complacency; so that they were never at a loss for company, and went onward, as it were, in a sort of profuse and triumphant procession.

Thus in less than eighteen weeks they all arrived safely at home, where they were received by their admiring relatives with joy tempered with contempt, and where they finally resolved to carry out the rest of their travelling-plans at some more favorable opportunity.

As for the Rhinoceros, in token of their grateful adherence, they had him killed and stuffed directly, and then set him up outside the door of their father's house as a diaphanous doorscraper.




In former days,—that is to say, once upon a time,—there lived in the Land of Gramble-Blamble seven families. They lived by the side of the great Lake Pipple-Popple (one of the seven families, indeed, lived in the lake), and on the outskirts of the city of Tosh, which, excepting when it was quite dark, they could see plainly. The names of all these places you have probably heard of; and you have only not to look in your geography-books to find out all about them.

Now, the seven families who lived on the borders of the great Lake Pipple-Popple were as follows in the next chapter.



There was a family of two old Parrots and seven young Parrots.

There was a family of two old Storks and seven young Storks.

There was a family of two old Geese and seven young Geese.

There was a family of two old Owls and seven young Owls.

There was a family of two old Guinea Pigs and seven young Guinea Pigs.

There was a family of two old Cats and seven young Cats.

And there was a family of two old Fishes and seven young Fishes.



The Parrots lived upon the Soffsky-Poffsky trees, which were beautiful to behold, and covered with blue leaves; and they fed upon fruit, artichokes, and striped beetles.

The Storks walked in and out of the Lake Pipple-Popple, and ate frogs for breakfast, and buttered toast for tea; but on account of the extreme length of their legs they could not sit down, and so they walked about continually.

The Geese, having webs to their feet, caught quantities of flies, which they ate for dinner.

The Owls anxiously looked after mice, which they caught, and made into sago-puddings.

The Guinea Pigs toddled about the gardens, and ate lettuces and Cheshire cheese.

The Cats sate still in the sunshine, and fed upon sponge biscuits.

The Fishes lived in the lake, and fed chiefly on boiled periwinkles.

And all these seven families lived together in the utmost fun and felicity.



One day all the seven fathers and the seven mothers of the seven families agreed that they would send their children out to see the world.

So they called them all together, and gave them each eight shillings and some good advice, some chocolate-drops, and a small green morocco pocket-book to set down their expenses in.

They then particularly entreated them not to quarrel; and all the parents sent off their children with a parting injunction.

"If," said the old Parrots, "you find a cherry, do not fight about who should have it."

"And," said the old Storks, "if you find a frog, divide it carefully into seven bits, but on no account quarrel about it."

And the old Geese said to the seven young Geese, "Whatever you do, be sure you do not touch a plum-pudding flea."

And the old Owls said, "If you find a mouse, tear him up into seven slices, and eat him cheerfully, but without quarrelling."

And the old Guinea Pigs said, "Have a care that you eat your lettuces, should you find any, not greedily, but calmly."

And the old Cats said, "Be particularly careful not to meddle with a clangle-wangle if you should see one."

And the old Fishes said, "Above all things, avoid eating a blue boss-woss; for they do not agree with fishes, and give them a pain in their toes."

So all the children of each family thanked their parents; and, making in all forty-nine polite bows, they went into the wide world.



The seven young Parrots had not gone far, when they saw a tree with a single cherry on it, which the oldest Parrot picked instantly; but the other six, being extremely hungry, tried to get it also. On which all the seven began to fight; and they scuffled, and huffled, and ruffled, and shuffled, and puffled, and muffled, and buffled, and duffled, and fluffled, and guffled, and bruffled, and screamed, and shrieked, and squealed, and squeaked, and clawed, and snapped, and bit, and bumped, and thumped, and dumped, and flumped each other, till they were all torn into little bits; and at last there was nothing left to record this painful incident except the cherry and seven small green feathers.

And that was the vicious and voluble end of the seven young Parrots.



When the seven young Storks set out, they walked or flew for fourteen weeks in a straight line, and for six weeks more in a crooked one; and after that they ran as hard as they could for one hundred and eight miles; and after that they stood still, and made a himmeltanious chatter-clatter-blattery noise with their bills.

About the same time they perceived a large frog, spotted with green, and with a sky-blue stripe under each ear.

So, being hungry, they immediately flew at him, and were going to divide him into seven pieces, when they began to quarrel as to which of his legs should be taken off first. One said this, and another said that; and while they were all quarrelling, the frog hopped away. And when they saw that he was gone, they began to chatter-clatter, blatter-platter, patter-blatter, matter-clatter, flatter-quatter, more violently than ever; and after they had fought for a week, they pecked each other all to little pieces, so that at last nothing was left of any of them except their bills.

And that was the end of the seven young Storks.



When the seven young Geese began to travel, they went over a large plain, on which there was but one tree, and that was, a very bad one.

So four of them went up to the top of it, and looked about them; while the other three waddled up and down, and repeated poetry, and their last six lessons in arithmetic, geography, and cookery.

Presently they perceived, a long way off, an object of the most interesting and obese appearance, having a perfectly round body exactly resembling a boiled plum-pudding, with two little wings, and a beak, and three feathers growing out of his head, and only one leg.

So, after a time, all the seven young Geese said to each other, "Beyond all doubt this beast must be a Plum-pudding Flea!"

On which they incautiously began to sing aloud,

"Plum-pudding Flea, Plum-pudding Flea, Wherever you be, Oh! come to our tree, And listen, oh! listen, oh! listen to me!"

And no sooner had they sung this verse than the Plum-pudding Flea began to hop and skip on his one leg with the most dreadful velocity, and came straight to the tree, where he stopped, and looked about him in a vacant and voluminous manner.

On which the seven young Geese were greatly alarmed, and all of a tremble-bemble: so one of them put out his long neck, and just touched him with the tip of his bill; but no sooner had he done this than the Plum-pudding Flea skipped and hopped about more and more, and higher and higher; after which he opened his mouth, and, to the great surprise and indignation of the seven Geese, began to bark so loudly and furiously and terribly, that they were totally unable to bear the noise; and by degrees every one of them suddenly tumbled down quite dead.

So that was the end of the seven young Geese.



When the seven young Owls set out, they sate every now and then on the branches of old trees, and never went far at one time.

And one night, when it was quite dark, they thought they heard a mouse; but, as the gas-lamps were not lighted, they could not see him.

So they called out, "Is that a mouse?"

On which a mouse answered, "Squeaky-peeky-weeky! yes, it is!"

And immediately all the young Owls threw themselves off the tree, meaning to alight on the ground; but they did not perceive that there was a large well below them, into which they all fell superficially, and were every one of them drowned in less than half a minute.

So that was the end of the seven young Owls.



The seven young Guinea Pigs went into a garden full of goose-berry-bushes and tiggory-trees, under one of which they fell asleep. When they awoke, they saw a large lettuce, which had grown out of the ground while they had been sleeping, and which had an immense number of green leaves. At which they all exclaimed,—

"Lettuce! O lettuce Let us, O let us, O lettuce-leaves, O let us leave this tree, and eat Lettuce, O let us, lettuce-leaves!"

And instantly the seven young Guinea Pigs rushed with such extreme force against the lettuce-plant, and hit their heads so vividly against its stalk, that the concussion brought on directly an incipient transitional inflammation of their noses, which grew worse and worse and worse and worse, till it incidentally killed them all seven.

And that was the end of the seven young Guinea Pigs.



The seven young Cats set off on their travels with great delight and rapacity. But, on coming to the top of a high hill, they perceived at a long distance off a Clangle-Wangle (or, as it is more properly written, Clangel-Wangel); and, in spite of the warning they had had, they ran straight up to it.

(Now, the Clangle-Wangle is a most dangerous and delusive beast, and by no means commonly to be met with. They live in the water as well as on land, using their long tail as a sail when in the former element. Their speed is extreme; but their habits of life are domestic and superfluous, and their general demeanor pensive and pellucid. On summer evenings, they may sometimes be observed near the Lake Pipple-Popple, standing on their heads, and humming their national melodies. They subsist entirely on vegetables, excepting when they eat veal or mutton or pork or beef or fish or saltpetre.)

The moment the Clangle-Wangle saw the seven young Cats approach, he ran away; and as he ran straight on for four months, and the Cats, though they continued to run, could never overtake him, they all gradually died of fatigue and exhaustion, and never afterwards recovered.

And this was the end of the seven young Cats.



The seven young Fishes swam across the Lake Pipple-Popple, and into the river, and into the ocean; where, most unhappily for them, they saw, on the fifteenth day of their travels, a bright-blue Boss-Woss, and instantly swam after him. But the Blue Boss-Woss plunged into a perpendicular, spicular, orbicular, quadrangular, circular depth of soft mud; where, in fact, his house was.

And the seven young Fishes, swimming with great and uncomfortable velocity, plunged also into the mud quite against their will, and, not being accustomed to it, were all suffocated in a very short period.

And that was the end of the seven young Fishes.



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