Repeated Nonsense: A Learesque Manuscript

Ekaterina Shatalova (see here) sends the description of a manuscript copying several of Edward Lear’s limericks together with pictures; here they are:

A rather delightful album of 15 original ink drawings repeating some of Lear’s limericks from Book of Nonsense. Late 19th century. Oblong 8vo, plain stiff paper wrappers; varying wear, drawings on rectos only, some ink bleeding to versos of leaves. The artist has copied Lear’s drawings to the best of his or her rude ability, copying the verses out faithfully by hand with the occasional omission of some punctuation marks. The compiler shared the limericist’s appreciation for old men, and includes here specimens from Bangor, the Cape, Coblenz, Jamaica, Kilkenny, Philae, Whitehaven, and the South, as well as men characterized by bovinophobia, hirsute aviaries, patient bell ringing, ornithological observation, erroneous supposition, and leporine diets. The one member of the fair sex included here, possessed of eyes of unique colour and size, testifies to the transgressive power of the female gaze in the Victorian age.

The seller’s advertisement of the album was accompanied by a lovely limerick:

An anonymous lover of Lear
Found the piece of nonsense too dear
So he made his own book
By aping the look
And the verse of that man without peer.

The whole list of the selected limericks:

There was an Old Man with a beard

There was a Young Lady whose eyes

There was an Old Man of Kilkenny

There was an Old Man who supposed

There was an Old Person of Philae

There was an Old Man of the South
There was an Old Man who said, “Well!”

There was an Old Man who said, “How”

There was an Old Man of Whitehaven

There was an Old Person whose habits

There was an Old Man of Coblenz

There was an Old Man who said, “Hush!”

There was an Old Person of Bangor

There was an Old Man of Jamaica

There was an Old Man of the Cape

See also.

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