Skip to comments.Ben Macintyre on the gory reality behind nursery rhymes
Posted on 08/30/2008 1:55:39 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
The hapless Humpty, it appears, was not an egg (that notion did not take root until 1871, with the publication of Alice Through the Looking Glass and Sir John Tenniel's illustration of Humpty as an egg). The original Humpty Dumpty was really a large cannon, used by Royalist forces to defend besieged Colchester in 1648. Royalists under the command of Sir Charles Lucas defended the town against the encircling Parliamentarians for 11 weeks, largely thanks to "Humpty Dumpty", the nickname for the cannon expertly operated by a Royalist gunner, "One-eyed" Thompson, and mounted on the church tower of St Mary-at-the-Walls.
Eventually, however, the Roundheads managed to score a direct hit on the tower, and Humpty (and Thompson) had a great fall. According to Albert Jack, in his new investigation of nursery rhymes, the shattered cannon "buried itself in deep marshland" outside the city walls. The reason all the king's men could not put the weapon back together again may have simply been that they could not find all the pieces buried in the Essex mud. In all probability the remains of Humpty are still there.
(Excerpt) Read more at entertainment.timesonline.co.uk ...
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This is fascinating. Something you don’t think about is the history of the rhymes you repeat. To us it’s just a rhyme, but it has much hidden meaning.
Very interesting. I’ve heard of some of the other less than appropriate origins of some nursery rhymes, but never this one.
“Ring around the rosey” is really about the great plague of London in 1665.
“Goosey Goosey Gander” is about the hiding of Catholic priests during their persecution in England.
Thanks for the heads-up!
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