The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIII. The Victorian Age, Part One.

VI. Lesser Poets of the Middle and Later Nineteenth Century

§ 11. Edward Lear

The author of one of the most original books of comic verse ever written, Edward Lear, though he was a great traveller, had not much to do with Bohemia. An artist he was in more than one sense and in more than one branch of art; but none of his artistries led him Prague-wards, just as the fact that he owed not a little to patronage did not, in the least, subject him to any of the trials, or tempt him into any of the revolts and excesses, of Bohemia’s uglier elder sister Grub street. Severe critics in the arts of design have admitted him to be an excellent draughtsman: it would be a sufficient and final testimony of the hopelessness of a literary critic if he failed to find in Lear a super-excellent writer of an almost unique kind.

The delightful Book of Nonsense (the form of the verse of which was long afterwards senselessly vulgarised and, in fact, prostituted, in newspaper competitions under the equally senseless name “Limerick”), taking, perhaps, a hint from the immemorial nursery rime, combined sense and nonsense, after the specially English fashion, in a way never known before; while his somewhat longer peoms—The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, the famous Jumblies and others—readjusted the combination in a fashion almost more delectable still.