A BOOK OF NONSENSE
There was once upon a time — I think it was last Tuesday week — a silly old bald-headed gentleman, who took a Brompton omnibus, and found another silly old bald-headed gentleman inside laughing fit to crack his sides over a child’s book of nonsense. “Oh, you great old stupid simpleton, to laugh so!” said the first old gentleman to himself; and then he added in a minute or two, “I should very much like to see what it’s all about.”
What is it all about, eh?
Well, it is about Mr. and Mrs. Spiky Sparrow, if you must know, and the Duck and the Kangaroo, and the Jumblies and Calico-pie; and there’s a receipt to make Crumbobblious Cutlets worth thinking over, and pictures of the Bacopipia Gracilio and Cockatooca Superba, and some account of some surprising animals — as, for instance, the pig whose tail was so curly, it made him surly (cross little pig!); and the whale with the long tail, whose movements were frantic across the Atlantic (monstrous old whale!); without mentioning the ape, who stole some white tape, and tied up his toes in four beautiful bows (funny old ape!). But now I see I have not made even a passing allusion to the four little children who went round the world in a boat, painted blue with green spots, and came back on the other side by dry land; and actually now I have not alluded to the seven families of the lake Pipple-popple, and of the dire fate which befell them; but the fact is, I have no breath left.
What is it all about? Well, it is a book of nonsense songs and stories, ridiculous botany, and preposterous alphabets, by Mr. Edward Lear, whose other book of nonsense all the world must have bought by this time; and I should advise big babies not to lose such an opportunity of getting a right down good laugh themselves by buying this book, nominally for any little babies they may know of, but really to read and roar over themselves in secret before giving it up, as that great big bald-headed old silly was doing when I caught him at it in the omnibus.
How many hundred nursery books are published in a year I have no notion, but I should think it will be many a long year before such a genuine child’s book makes its appearance again. It always has been thought to be beneath great minds to be funny, and some dull fools say fun is out of fashion, but the world likes laughing yet, and will until the end of time. To wag one’s head, and shake the bells, may not be dignified, but it is vastly profitable. A poor ambition it must seem to you stately ones, but lucrative and pleasant withal when you’re used to it.
Judy, or the London Serio-Comic Journal, Wednesday, January 18, 1871; pg. 114.