antedating "Limerick" (rhyme) Feb. 3, 1896

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Jan 19 12:13:49 UTC 2009

As you may recall, the earliest known uses of "Limerick" stanza are from a
letter of Aubrey Beardsley c. May 1, 1896 and in Judy, or the London serio-comic
journal June 24, 1896.

Previously, I proposed that, in some uses, "come to Limerick" meant "surrender"
and that "will you come to Limerick?" meant "surrender?" and that it may not be
too great a leap of faith to see these two as likely related.

Now, Surgeon-Major John MacGregor, M.D., Indian  Medical Service, and a
published poet, signed the Preface to the following book "London: February 3,

Through the Buffer state;
a record of recent travels through Borneo, Siam and Cambodia,
John MacGregor 1896
English Book xv p., 1 l., 290 p. 8 pl., 2 port. (incl. front.) map, plan. 20 cm.
London, F.V. White and Co.

Page 283

There _was_ a low thief of Calcutta,
Who saw a man open and shut a
Rich cashbox, and said
To himself, 'I'll be dead,
If I don't steal the swag from the gudda.'1
_Limerick Rhymes_ (Oriental Edition)
Footnote 1 Gudda is Anglo-Indian slang for a gowk. Literally in Hindustani
means--a moke.

"_Limerick Rhymes_ (Oriental Edition)" does not appear in WorldCat. This
Limerick, an epigraph to a section on Calcutta "mother of thieves," and not the
only such poem in the book (see pp. 281-2), may have been written by MacGregor.

Stephen Goranson
"Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and Judah the Essene"

The American Dialect Society -

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