FROM THE MORGUE
Copyright 2009 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
December 25, 1880
THERE is great complaint at Oxford respecting the singular course pursued by the authorities in regard to theatres and music halls. Dramatic performances and dramatic clubs are prohibited at Oxford as not conducive to morality, and the eyes of fast undergraduates are not permitted to be polluted by the impure creations of Shakespeare. The only performance tolerated during term by the reverend vice chancellor and the worshipful the mayor is that known as "the variety." The chief characteristics of this form of amusement at the "Vic" are painted and powdered women, whose dresses and gestures border on the highly indecent; songs which convey extremely broad allusions to the most unintelligent brain; drunken occupiers of the boxes; tumbling out of them into the pit or on to the footlights, from which they are dragged with difficulty by their friends; frequent attempts to storm the stage and kiss the performers, and, lastly, a breakdown by a trio of inebriates on the stage when the curtain has fallen. A thick, unwholesome atmosphere of smoke, oaths, and general uproar pervades the theatre, though the blue-coated guardian of the peace smiles down benignly on the proprietor of the entertainment in his much admired and encored performance, the "Limerick Rhymes."
This excerpt from the news-tidbit collection Human Vagaries found in the December 25, 1880 issue of the National Police Gazette may contain the first known use in writing of the term "limerick" to refer to lowbrow verse.