Pussycat Pussycat

“Pussycat pussycat, where have you been?”
“I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen.”
“Pussycat pussycat, what did you there?”
“I frightened a little mouse under her chair”
“MEOWW!”

First published in London during 1805 in the book Songs for the Nursery. Here.

Liza Blake, at The Collation. Research and Exploration at the Folger, summarises John Ogilby’s translation of Aesop’s fable “Of the Youngman and the Cat:”

One upon a time, there was a guy who really liked his cat—really liked her. So much so, that he prays to Venus, the goddess of love, to transform her from a cat into a woman he could marry. Venus grants his prayer, the couple marries, and as they are in their marriage bed Venus decides to test whether her transformation was complete. She sends a mouse running across the room, and the woman leaps out of bed, chasing it; Venus, upset that the woman transformed in body but not mind, changes her back into a cat.

Here is the illustration:

And here is a caricature of 1821 from the Recent Antiquarian Acquisitions at the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University:

A kitchen scene [with a satire based on the fable of the “catspaw”]. A monkey with Wood’s head squats beside a plump cat with the head in profile of Queen Caroline. She sits gazing at the fire with an eagerly expectant smile. He puts his left hand on her shoulder and takes her right paw which is supported on his knee, looking fixedly at her with greedy expectation. Between the bars of the grate are four chestnuts like large potatoes. These are inscribed respectively: ‘Privileges’, ‘Rights’, ‘Liturgy’, ‘St Catherines’. Beside the grate and attached to a chain is a ‘Kettle of Fish’. Behind the cat is a big trap with steel teeth inscribed ’50 000 per Annum’. Behind it is a dresser, neatly arranged above a cupboard inscribed ‘Lately from St Omers’ [see British Museum Satires no. 13730]. On the dresser are a teapot and butterdish, each with a bust portrait of Bergami, and two cups, inscribed ‘BB’. There are also pans inscribed ‘Hash’ and ‘Stew’, a ‘Tinder’ box and bottle of ‘Brim-Stone’. On the chimneypiece, with other utensils, is a box of ‘Matches’.”–British Museum online catalogue.

  • PrintmakerLane, Theodore, 1800-1828, printmaker.
  • TitleThe man of the woods & the cat-o’-mountain [graphic].
  • PublicationLondon : Pubd. by G. Humphrey, 27 St. James’s St., March 27, 1821.
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