The Great Panjandrum
So she went into the garden
to cut a cabbage-leaf
to make an apple-pie;
and at the same time
a great she-bear, coming down the street,
pops its head into the shop.
What! no soap?
So he died,
and she very imprudently married the Barber:
and there were present
and the Joblillies,
and the Garyulies,
and the great Panjandrum himself,
with the little round button at top;
and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can,
till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots
-- Samuel Foote
I came across this in my recently purchased Faber Book of Children's Verse, along with many other old favourites. In the notes it says it was composed byFoote in response to a request by David Garrick for a poem with no meaning, so I decided e-mule must be its spiritual home. However, the copy I cut and pasted has a different version of a similar tale:
(Composed by Foote in 1755 to test the memory of the actor Charles Macklin, who
had claimed he could read any paragraph once through and then recite it
verbatim. It is not recorded whether or not Macklin was, in fact, able to
memorise the passage at first reading, but he apparently took great pleasure in
reciting both the anecdote and the passage in later life).
Interesting that I ran into Panjandrum just yesterday,
during my Nimrod expedition !
Ag shame... I think this author was maybe high when he wrote it