Monday, 19 January 2015

John Lee's Nursery Ballads ... and two Royal Umbrellas

John Lee's Nursery Ballads: I ran into these vaguely IOW-related works while Googling a strange dream I had - I get a few lately - about "Isle of Wight cake" (which for all I know exists).

The Christening Cake: A New Nursery Ballad (London: John Lee, 440 West Strand, 1842, Internet Archive christeningcake00cakegoog). This leads with an anecdote from the Morning Post, for Jan 26, 1842, concerning the appearance, and removal intact, of an ornately-iced Christening Cake from St George's Hall.  This in turn inspires a ballad with a "waste not, want not" moral about Victoria and Albert's saving of an elaborate Christening Cake for the Prince of Wales.
The Royal Umbrella: A Ballad of the Isle of Wight, By the Author of the Christening Cake (London; John Lee, 440 West Strand, 1844, Google Books ID jQlgAAAAcAAJ). Near Whippingham, Isle of Wight, an old postman called Scudamore lends his umbrella to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (not knowing their identity) and gets a note of thanks and £5 in return. This anecdote comes from the Morning Post for October 21st, 1844. This leads into a ballad about a dying Crusader knight (also called Scudamore) who receives a prophecy from a mysterious woman that one day a Scudamore will protect the Queen.

Both ballads are divided into ancient ("AUTREFOIS") and modern ("AUJOURD' HUI") segments. "John Lee" is, by the way, the publisher - a very general-purpose one - and not the (unknown) author of the ballads.

The other and better Royal Umbrella

Illustration from "The Royal Umbrella." by Linley
Sambourne (Griffith and Farran, 1880)
from Children's Books and their Illustrators,
(Gleeson White, New York: J. Lane, c. 1897?).
Note also that the rather slight 1844 The Royal Umbrella isn't to be confused with the more ambitious 1880-ish one:
  • The Royal Umbrella [A tale.] (With four illustrations by L. Sambourne. Alfred Frederick Pollock Harcourt, Contributor: Edward Linley Sambourne, London : Griffith and Farran, 1880 [1879] ).
I can't find it, except via allusions in other works, but it seems to have been some kind of comic burlesque for children that showcased Sambourne's fine illustrations, as above:
A little known book, "The Royal Umbrella" (1888 - sic), which contains the delightful "Cat Gardeners" reproduced here.
- ref. in Gleeson White's 1897? Children's Books and their Illustrators.
The Royal Umbrella. By Major F. B. Harcourt, Author of " Kooloo," &c. With Illustrations by Linley Sambourne. (Griffith and Farran.)— Readers of Punch are familiar with the quaint drawings of Mr. Sambourne, but his pencil is not often seen in book illustration. We welcome him warmly, for his designs are both humorous and original. What could be better than those he has furnished for this delightfully-absurd fairy story? Major Harcourt tells us how the whole palace was turned upside down in consequence of his majesty Roundchap the Fifth having lost his umbrella, one of the best ginghams; and the artist presents us with comic pictures of the chief incidents in the story—the arrest of the thief, her imprisonment and escape, her love adventures, and her triumphal return with the royal umbrella. Very funny is the notion of the Cat Gardeners, who when the prince was pondering on his love, employed themselves in laying out the beds and rolling the gravel. Observe the ingenious way in which the gardener, pipe in mouth, eases the strain upon his arms as he pulls the roller. Note the several forms of cat-heads, the sly glance of the day-labourer with the fork, and the air of authority assumed by the cat-overseer in the arbour. Even the watering-pot has a cannie look, and the garden roller seems to be smiling a stony smile. This drawing, a good example of pictorial fun, is one of several, and the whole book, even to the design on the cover, is as original and amusing as any reader can desire. At Christmas-time we do not so much need instruction as genial laughter and provoking nonsense. "The Royal Umbrella " supplies it liberally.
- The Christmas Bookseller, 1879
Actually, this has turned out to be a far more interesting exploration than "Isle of Wight cake" would've been ...

Royal Umbrella Shop ad
Devon, the shire of the sea kings (4th ed., 1916)
Gallica, Public Domain

- Ray

No comments:

Post a Comment