“A Master of the Faux Demotic”

Would you believe this is a characterization of Edward Lear?

Miller, Sam. A Strange Kind of Paradise: India Through Foreign Eyes. London: Vintage Books, 2014. 184:

Edward Lear, the English illustrator and poet, a master of the faux demotic and best known for writing nonsense, said after a trip to Agra in 1874, that the world could be divided into two groups of people ― ‘them as has seen the Taj Mahal; and them as hasn’t’. The Taj was firmly on the tourist trail by then, and when, a year after Lear, the future Edward VII popped by, he pointed out, rather wisely, I think that it was commonplace fro every writer ‘to set out with the admissione that [the Taj Mahal] is indescribable, and then proceed to give some idea of it’.

[Note in the same page] Lear’s limericks include Kashmir (‘scroobious and queer’), Madras (‘cream-coloured ass’), Calcutta (‘bread and butter’) but no Delhi ― surely a gift to rhymesters ― or Agra. Lear also wrote a nonsense verse called The Cummerbund: An Indian Poem in which he deliberately misuses every Anglo-Indian word he comes across. It ends “Beware, ye Fair! Ye Fair, beware! / Nor sit out late at night, ― / Less horrid Cummerbunds should come / And swallw you outright.’ A cummerbund is in fact a sash worn around one’s middle, similar in some ways to the Virgin Mary’s girdle.

[Note on pp. 104-105] The Virgin’s girdle was not the corset-like undergarment of moden English innuendo, but a belt or sash, sometimes known as a cincture, or zone in Greek, and said in Mary’s case to have been made of camel hair. As well as the tradition that Thomas received the girdle because he was late getting there [to Palestine to attend the death and assumption to heaven of the Virgin Mary] from India, it’s also said that, as with the resurrection, Thomas doubted what his eyes were seeing ― and that the possession of the Virgin’s girdle convinced him that he wasn’t imagining things. A piece of mary’s cincture is among the relics held at the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos.

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