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Tweedledum and Tweedledee

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The first known mention of Tweedledum and Tweedledee is found in an epigram (1727) by John Byrom. It targets the rivalry of two composers — Georg Friedrich Händel and Giovanni Battista Bononcini — in the London of the 1720s.

The pair appears again in a nursery rhyme (printed around 1805) which may (or may not) have been old enough to be known to Byrom.

This rhyme is now known worldwide as a result of Lewis Carroll's inclusion of it in his second Alice book Through the Looking-Glass (1871).[1]

The epigram (1927)

An Epigram on the Feuds between Handel and Bononcini
Some say, compared to Bononcini
That Mynheer Handel's but a ninny;
Others aver that he to Handel
Is scarcely fit to hold a candle;
Strange all this difference should be
'Twixt tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.

The nursery rhyme

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
  Agreed to have a battle
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
  Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
  As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
  They quite forgot their quarrel.


  1. Through the Looking-Glass, Chapter Four, Tweedledum and Tweedledee