A smattering of links:
1. Illustrations from a 1925 Japanese edition of Aesop.
2. David Crystal on Dickens's language (parts 1, 2, and 3). Part 3 is especially good I think; esp. the precursors of Chuzzlewit, and this bit from Oliver Twist, which I do not remember at all (having read the book only as a child):
Mrs Mann: How comes he to have any name at all, then?For Swubble cf. "swabbling." And the list of words that might have been coined by Dickens has some remarkable entries...
Bumble: I inwented it.
Mrs Mann: You, Mr. Bumble!
Bumble: I, Mrs. Mann. We name our fondlings in alphabetical order. The last was a S,- Swubble, I named him. This was a T,- Twist, I named him. The next one as comes will be Unwin, and the next Vilkins. I have got names ready made to the end of the alphabet, and all the way through it again, when we come to Z.
Mrs Mann: Why, you're quite a literary character, sir!
3. Mary Beard recently alluded to the duck's ditty in Wind in the Willows; I'd forgotten about it, was happy to be reminded, and was thoroughly cheered up to find that "Up tails all" is an old folk song to which the lyrics have apparently been lost (?), although the refrain survives in allusions by Jonson, Herrick, and Vanbrugh:
Ras. The Matter?—why, Uptails All's the Matter... My Lady has Cuckolded my Master.